Shopping Addiction: What happens when shopping becomes an addiction?

Posted on October 20, 2014 by addiction

Shopping Addiction: What happens when shopping spirals out of control, and in some cases, becomes an addiction?

WebMD Feature Archive (By Heather Hatfield)

For most people, it means some new clothes for work or a small trinket for a friend. For others, however, shopping is much more than an enjoyable pastime, and in some cases, it is a real and destructive addiction that can turn into a financial disaster.

“Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control,” says Donald Black, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

“Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one’s impulses.

In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping.”

Sometimes referred to as “shopoholism,” shopping addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life, family, and finances.

Read More Experts explain to WebMD   why shopping can be so addictive, what the warning signs are, and how to stop the cycle of spending.


shopping-addictionNo one knows what causes addictive behaviours, like shopping, alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling,” says Ruth Engs, EdD, a professor of applied health science at Indiana University.

“Some of the new evidence suggests that some people, maybe 10%-15%, may have a genetic predisposition to an addictive behaviour, coupled with an environment in which the particular behaviour is triggered, but no one really knows why.”

While the origin of addictions remains uncertain, why addicts continue their destructive behaviours is better understood.

“Individuals will get some kind of high from an addictive behaviour like shopping,” says Engs. “Meaning that endorphins and dopamine, naturally occurring opiate receptor sites in the brain, get switched on, and the person feels good, and if it feels good they are more likely to do it — it’s reinforced.”

So what are the telltale signs that shopping has crossed the line and become an addiction? Read More Experts explain to WebMD 

Shopping Addiction and other Behavioural Addictions will be addressed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference.

Addiction 2015 will be hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMH).

The Conference is for Addiction treatment professionals, Drug and Alcohol Workers, mental health professionals, health-care clinicians, researchers and academics.

Addiction 2015 will be held on the 20 – 22 May 2015 at Outriggers Gold Coast.

For more information visit the website

Abstracts Close 21st November 2014

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