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Addiction to shopping: from origin to treatment

Addiction to shopping: from origin to treatment


People with a shopping addiction, more than being impulsive, seek relief from their suffering and not just for pleasure.

Compulsive shopping behavior is like a ritual with a basis similar to that of obsessive-compulsive disorders. This dependence leads to a loss of control over the person’s behavior and life in general.

Lista de Conteúdos

1. What is it?

People with a shopping addiction often resort to justifications for “shopping”, whether emphasizing the advantages and benefits of the product, or arguing in favor of illusory needs regarding it. Thus, their capacity for appreciation and criticism seems to be compromised, and their difficulty in controlling the impulse activates their buying behavior.

What stimulates and interests the compulsive shopper is not the purchased object, but the act of buying, that is, one buys not to own, but “for and to” simply buy.

In practice, the acquisition provokes in these individuals effects similar to those of cocaine consumption: high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the sensation of psychological reward, pleasure or tension reduction, are released.

The psychological dependence of the act of shopping makes the “shopaholic”, or person with a shopping addiction, put “your shopping” first, neglecting family, work, social life, etc., becoming totally absent. Even though he is able to foresee the harmful effects of his compulsive behavior in relation to the addiction to shopping, the addicted subject is completely powerless to control and stop the action of shopping.

Before, during and after: did you know that…?

Studies show that before the act of shopping, the individual feels agitated,while making the purchase, insecurity reigns, because he knows that what he is doing is wrong, and that’s after invaded by a feeling of happiness, especially when referring to more expensive goods. However, immediately after the act of buying is the guilt that sets in, accompanied by shame and other unpleasant feelings. At the same time, “going down” to reality, the person with a shopping addiction realizes that their difficulties are all there, added to more complications and “reduced” in terms of money. Still, it can’t stop. Need help.

2. Consequences of having a shopping addiction (or being a shopaholic)

    • Financial: it can reach the point of incurring debt or even stealing to obtain the money needed to make more purchases, even driving the individual to despair;span,
    • Professionals: derived from stress and the loss of time spent on shopping;
    • Family and relational breaks:in addition to feeling powerless and put aside, family and friends are worried about the person’s suffering and the exorbitant expenses they have made;
    • The addiction to shopping can appear in an isolated way, and it can also coexist or lead toother types of behavior, such as: bulimia, addiction to gambling or any type of substances that alter the mood.

3. What is the treatment?

Cognitive-behavioral based professional intervention seems to be an effective solution for this shopping addiction disease. First, it is important to help the adult identify the thoughts associated with compulsive shopping. Thus, these thoughts will be worked and changed, since most of them are linked to distorted ways of evaluating and perceiving reality. Strengthening your self-esteem, solving problems, emotional management are some of the components to be worked on in therapy.

“Anonymous Addit”

'(under treatment) I realized that I used shopping to 'cover up' my unhappiness. Once the treatment was over, I got rid of everything and paid off the credit card debt, but more importantly, I had the courage to divorce myself and seek happiness.'

Compulsiveness and shopping addiction is a serious and progressive disease, like all addictions. For this reason, the relocationmay be the only way to put a brake on indiscriminate shopping.

At our treatment center, the therapeutic approach for this type of addiction is carried out through the Change & Grow® therapeutic model applied in the most diverse forms of individual and group therapy. It is vital for successful treatment that the individual accepts the disease, releases the past, sets goals for the future, and develops strategies for coping of relapse prevention. The duration of this therapeutic process, in an inpatient regime, takes place between an approximate period of 90 to 150 days. After the treatment period, regular frequency of monthly Aftercare therapeutic groups is suggested.

Within the group, the patient becomes aware of his pathology and the damage he has caused to himself and others, gradually readapting to life in society. Gradually, he learns to deal with his anxiety, which will reduce his obsession with shopping. You will be assisted in discovering more appropriate behaviors to overcome negative feelings, rather than simply wanting to stay away from them. You can even make plans for the money freely, reflecting on its meaning and value.

The subject will stop being assaulted by the need to buy what others have so as not to feel diminished in relation to them and will give up trying to buy love and power with expensive and sophisticated gifts. During hospitalization for the dependency of purchases, the addict may, with the tools that he is collecting, develop strategies to combat the manifestations of his illness, such as:

  • Take your spouse or other family member to go shopping with you, so that they can give their opinion on the need and/or relevance of the purchase;
  • Pay for purchases with cash, avoiding the use of credit cards;
  • Make a list of things to buy, sticking to it religiously;
  • Avoid online shopping;
  • Engage in some physical exercise to quell the urge to buy…

In short, hospitalization will enable the patient to re-educate feelings and impulses, cultivate creativity, achieve serenity, find themselves as an individual and, most importantly, learn to like themselves, which will eliminate the paradox of thinking that things are that fill us up!


As with any other addiction, the subject must find reasons that justify the change in behavior, analyzing the pros and cons of shopping in different areas of their life.

It will be normal for impulses to arise, but it is essential that the patient recognizes, accepts and tolerates them, without acting on them. On the contrary, he will learn and develop new strategies and tools so that he can satisfy his own needs without resorting to shopping.

Do not ignore this problem, even if it is not directly with you.Always count on us.


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