Compulsive Shopping and Spending

Are you an over-spender?

Compulsive shopping and spending is described as a pattern of chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes difficult to stop and ultimately results in harmful consequences. It is defined as an impulse control disorder and has features similar to other addictive disorders without involving use of an intoxicating drug.

This information on compulsive shopping and spending can be found at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at Proctor Hospital. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself:

1. Do you shop or spend money as a result of feeling depressed, disappointed, angry, scared or lonely?
2. Do you experience emotional distress or chaos in your life due to shopping or spending habits?
3. Do you have arguments with others about your shopping or spending habits?
4. Do you feel lost without credit cards?
5. Do you buy items on credit that would not be bought with cash?
6. Do you feel a rush of both euphoria and anxiety when spending money?
7. Do you feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed or confused after shopping or spending money?
8. Do you lie to others about purchases made or how much money was spent?
9. Do you think excessively about money?
10. Do you spend a lot of time juggling accounts or bills to accommodate spending?

If you'd like a score on this inventory you can take the compulsive shopping quiz here.

Below are descriptions of compulsive spending and the behaviors and problems commonly associated with it. Click on any of the following topics to learn more:
What problems are caused by compulsive shopping and spending?
What makes compulsive shopping and spending addictive?

Recommended books and online resources for Compulsive Shopping can be found here, including the information below.
  • It is estimated that nearly one in five people has a problem keeping their shopping under control.

  • 4 studies carried out in the UK, Germany Canada and the USA indicate that between 2 and 10 per cent of the adult population have some compulsive shopping tendencies In 2005 the Citizen Advice Bureaux saw a 16 percent rise in people coming to see them with large debts compared to 1999.
  • Compulsive Shopping or oniomania cannot technically be called an addiction because addictions involve some degree of physical dependence. Instead it is seen as compulsive behavior with a lack of impulse control.
  • Compulsive shopping is a form of behavior designed to avoid unpleasant reality and is accompanied by a high which causes the sufferer to lose control and buy many items for which they have no need. It is followed however by guilt low mood and shame.
The more you know, the more you likely you will act.