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Being addicted to shopping (professionally called Oniomania, or compulsive shopping) is a true medical issue. It's often associated with or compared to obsessive-compulsive disorder, poor impulse control issues, or clinical addictions. People who are addicted to shopping often find themselves with huge amounts of credit card debt. However, they're so addicted that even though they've defaulted on payments and have very little money, they still want to shop.
The good news is that there are methods out there to help people who can't control their shopping. However, the first step, as with any addiction, is to admit that you have a shopping problem. It can be difficult for someone to admit that they have any issue, especially when it's something that seems so innocent.
Figure Out Why
So what can a person with a shopping addiction do? The first step is to figure out why they shop so much. As with most disorders, there is often a trigger. The easiest way to identify this is to keep a written record of when you feel the urge to shop. Is it when you're upset? Is it because you're bored? You might be surprised at what exactly triggers your shopping habit.
Once you figure out what need you're filling with shopping, you can begin to find healthier alternatives. Those with a shopping addiction aren't shopping because they need more things; they're doing it because it's psychological. That means the behavior can be changed. Find something that's a healthier alternative to shopping. It will be hard to do, especially at first. But it can be done. You may need to come up with several alternatives so you don't simply exchange one addiction for another. For example, if you start eating every time you want to go shopping, you'll eventually find that you've kicked your shopping addiction but have developed an over-eating disorder.
Change Your Habits
You may also need to change your environment. Do you shop online when you're home by yourself because you get bored? If so, go out with friends or just go out walking around the neighborhood. Don't tempt yourself by going to places like the mall or department stores unless you absolutely have to. When you do, go in with a plan: know exactly what you need and where you need to go. Don't deviate from this plan for any reason.
Don't forget that you don't have to go through this alone. A shopping addiction can be just as difficult to handle and just as destructive as being addicted to drugs or alcohol. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Yes, there are people who will try to brush it off as not being a real addiction, but those who truly care about you will want to help.
You can also find help outside of your friends and family. One of the most helpful organizations is called Recoveries Anonymous. R.A. has a number of resources on their website to help you find a recovery group or to begin recovery. Much like alcoholics anonymous, they use a twelve step recovery program and have regular group meetings.
Another resource for those in need of assistance is the Good Therapy website. They help connect people in need with therapists, support groups, and other resources. They do more than just work with shopping addicts, so those with other addictions can also find help on the site.
The Recovery Ranch is similar to Good Therapy in that they have programs for a number of addictions. They have a toll-free hotline for addicts to call and get some help or just talk to someone about their problems.
Even though some may belittle it, a shopping addiction is a real disorder. If you suspect you have one, reach out for help now. Don't wait until you're thousands of dollars in debt and have ruined relationships. Once you do that, you'll have ruined your credit and may be on the verge of losing your home, your car, and all of your possessions. Help is out there if you're just willing to ask for it.