Any addiction is somehow harmful. Smoking may cause cancer, drinking may cause not just health, but also psychological problems, gambling may cause a financial crisis. But have you ever thought about shopping as an addiction? For most people shopping means new clothes, odds and ends for the house or little gifts for friends. However, shopping takes on an entirely different meaning for others. This mania is referred to as compulsive shopping or “shopoholism”.

As any other obsession, compulsive shopping may be indicated by specific behavior: shopping or spending money as a result of feeling lonely or depressed, feeling lost without credit cards, obvious euphoria while spending, having arguments about one’s shopping habits, feeling ashamed or guilty after a spending spree or thinking obsessively about money. When a person starts to break ones budged by spending more than agreed to and in spite of buying one shirt they end up with six – it’s a very serious chronic problem.

Compulsive shoppers tend to hide their purchases due to the financial and family problems they cause. They avoid talking about shopping and especially about their own behavior. Many shopoholics even create new credit card accounts unknown to others. Relationships in families begin to deteriorate when a compulsive shopper starts spending more and more money and time away from home to shop, creates more and more debt, covers up debt with deception and starts to isolate him/her from family. “Shopoholics” even start to hide their purchases, just like alcoholics hide bottles.

Some people take their purchases back to shops because they feel guilty, however the guilt may cause another spending spree, so it’s a vicious circle. Moreover, for these people a debt may not be an issue, because they’re consistently returning things out of guilt. But the problem still exists. They’ve crossed the line when they are no longer in control of shopping, but shopping is in control of them.

Like any other addiction, it has nothing to do with how much a person spends or shops; instead, it has everything to do with consequences. And these consequences are usually not just financial crisis, but also bad family relationships or even divorce, psychological problems, depression, hard withdrawal period, danger to get addicted again.

What to do if the problem occurs? There is no quick and easy answer to shopoholism. Not only treatment is a necessary part of solving the problem, behavior of the addict is also a very important part. The addict should first of all admit that he/she has a problem of compulsive shopping. Then he has to get rid of all checkbooks, credit cards and everything that may fuel spending. Another step is while having the withdrawal period never go shopping alone, because shopoholics are likely to spend when they are by themselves. And of course compulsive shoppers should find another way to spend their time. Although ones may heal by giving themselves a ban on shopping, others need some serious psychological help and someone else to take care of their finances.

Nevertheless, spending more money on holidays than intended does not mean that you are an addict. Sometimes shopping is a good way to relax or spend time, however it shouldn’t become the way of solving your problems, because then, shopping will become problem.