Shopping addiction (oniomania), also known as compulsive buying disorder (CBD), has the elements of both a mental ‘obsession’ and a physical ‘compulsion’ ordinarily associated with an addiction. However, some psychiatrists believe compulsive buying is more indicative of impulse control disorder. Others think it is more indicative of some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Still others view the disorder as an impulsive-compulsive spectrum disorder, while there are some who see it as a mood disorder.
CBD is said to affect an estimated 5.9 (US), 6 (AUS) or 8-16 (UK) per cent of the adult population. There is now a twelve-step program to treat the condition, the program being called, appropriately, Shopaholics Anonymous.
As with other addictions, finances and relationships are damaged, yet the shopping addict feels unable to stop or even control their spending by the use of will power. (Will power may be able to break a bad habit but never an addiction, the latter being a bad habit with the added elements of mental obsession and physical compulsion, for the will is captive to the addiction. Simple as that. Only 'want power' can open the door to freedom.)
Yes, just like any form of addiction, things can very quickly spiral out of control. From a position of wanting to be in control, the person suddenly finds that they are completely out of control ... indeed, powerless (to use the language of twelve-step programs).
Retail therapy results in guilt and even more negative emotions, and the addictive behaviour can become secretive (‘closet buying’ or ‘closet shopping’) - just like alcohol and drug addiction - with the development over time of that pathological phenomenon known as ‘denial’.
(This blog sets out a simple form of mindfulness sitting meditation.)
GIVING UP SMOKING WITH MINDFULNESS
THE USE OF MINDFULNESS FOR SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS