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Compulsive buying disorder and substance abuse are often connected. Both conditions have similar causes, and research has found that compulsive shoppers are significantly more likely to have a lifetime history of substance abuse or dependence.
While compulsive buying disorder is not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, researchers have found that compulsive shopping follows the same patterns of other addictions. Shopping addiction is highly ritualized, and the act of shopping produces pleasurable effects and relief from negative feelings, followed by a “crash,” much like substance addiction.
People struggling with a shopping addiction buy things compulsively, even when it causes problems in their lives.
Shopping addiction may be a kind of impulse control disorder or behavioral addiction and might even be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It often begins in a person’s teens or in early adulthood and frequently occurs with other disorders, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or mood disorders.
Compulsive shoppers often find bargain hunting or shopping for rare items irresistible. They typically enjoy the process of buying more than the items themselves. Shopping releases a surge of dopamine in the brain, much like using drugs or alcohol.
People with compulsive buying disorder may engage in both impulse buying and planned shopping sprees. While most of us make the occasional impulse purchase, compulsive shopping becomes debilitating. The characteristics of compulsive buying disorder include:
If any of these signs apply to you, you might have a shopping addiction. Compulsive shopping can be devastating financially and emotionally. It’s important to get help, especially if you’re also struggling with a substance use disorder.
Research has found a strong link between compulsive shopping and substance use disorders. Both activities release dopamine in the brain and lead to feelings of euphoria.
For compulsive shoppers, the rush associated with buying things can diminish over time. As the excitement of shopping fades, the person may spend more money or seek out higher-risk shopping experiences to feel satisfied.
Some people even start using substances to heighten the experience of shopping. This is dangerous, especially if a person drives under the influence to get to the mall or shopping center. They may lose awareness of what they’re doing and have blackouts, unable to remember purchases they made. Some end up in serious financial trouble. A string of blackout purchases can lead to severe debt and even bankruptcy.
If you or a loved one is struggling with compulsive buying disorder and a co-occurring substance use disorder, RECO Intensive can help.
Compulsive shopping can seriously impact your life, affecting your ability to work, go to school, and maintain healthy relationships. RECO Intensive treats shopping addiction in much the same way as substance addictions. Treatment strategies may include:
Contact us today to learn more about RECO’s compulsive buying disorder therapy programs and to schedule a tour of our Delray Beach rehab facility. Help is just a phone call away.
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