Spending Addiction

Shopping for most people is a purposeful or planned behavior to meet their daily needs, or a kind of affordable luxury. However, there are many symbolic meanings behind the buying behavior such as relief from stress, emotion regulations, and recognition on oneself. Compulsive buying happens when an individual is preoccupied with shopping and spending for an extended period of time, and finds it difficult to resist the spending impulse. The spending pattern is mainly driven by psychological needs rather than actual needs resulting in social, occupational and financial problems.

Common characteristics of people who engage in compulsive buying:

  • Feel compelled to go shopping
  • Buy things that are not needed or used
  • Spend longer time and larger amount than expected
  • Experience buying or spending binge followed by feeling sad, disappointed or angry
  • Repeated the buying or spending behavior despite feeling quilty or negative consequences
  • Deceptive about the spending behavior and amount spent

The progression of addiction and its effects

Most people retain a sense of control in shopping or spending. However, some tend to rely on shopping to obtain a boost, or use it to relieve stress or avoid problems. International studies show that some people with compulsive buying problems also suffer from mood disorders, substance abuse or bulimia nervosa. When the addictive behavior becomes prolonged and severe, the short-term rewarding effect may be replaced by negative emotions, such as guilt, remorse and self-loathing. An individual may need to increase the frequency and intensity of shopping in order to maintain the same rewarding effect that create further impairment to the person’s life such as financial and debt problems, damage family and interpersonal relationships, anxiety or depressive mood, decline in work or study performance, etc.

Diagnosis and treatment should be provided by professional practitioners. If you suspect yourself, your partner, your family member, or your friend having compulsive buying behavior, please call our hotline on 2827 1000.