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Is "Cyber Monday" Fueling Your Shopping Addiction?

In the U.S., "Black Friday" has traditionally been the shopping day after Thanksgiving on which retailers have their highest sales."Cyber Monday," a recent name given to the Monday after Thanksgiving, is a high-traffic day for online shopping. I admit when I started writing this post, I had to pop onto Amazon.com to see if there were any irresistible deals!

Most people joke about the "shop 'til you drop" mentality or "retail therapy" and we're all familiar with the stereotypical woman shopper who cruises the malls, her fist crammed with credit cards. But compulsive shopping behaviors do exist and can be very damaging.

Not Every Behavior is an Addiction

As an substance abuse/dependence specialist, I tire of anything and everything being labeled an "addiction." I would prefer to discuss some of these compulsive behaviors as problematic by degrees. Most of us experience a "high" when we buy something new for ourselves or find the perfect gift. There are definite addictive qualities to serious compulsive shopping. But is it accurate to compare a moderate shopping habit to a heroin addiction? What do other experts have to say?

WebMd.com addresses the difference between a harmless pastime and problem behavior in the article, "Shopping Spree or Addiction?" "Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control," says Donald Black, M.D., professor of psychiatry at University of Iowa College of Medicine.

According to Addictions.org, the compulsive spending cycle mimics that of other addictive cycles,

"Because they lose their ability to buy within their means they are constantly in financial trouble and often dogged by collection agencies. When the "high" of shopping dissipates they are left with the guilt and shame so characteristic of the addiction cycle. The guilt and shame may contain the urge
for a short while but ultimately it leads to the need to alleviate the bad feelings through another bout of spending."

Take the Self-Test

If you have concerns that your shopping behavior is becoming problematic, take the following Self-Test at Addicted.com.

My own professional criteria for any compulsive behavior becoming unhealthy is a simple question, "Is the behavior causing problems for you or anyone else?" If you answer "yes," then you might want to consider getting some help.

Getting Help

Start by looking in your local phone book under "Addiction" " to find treatment centers that can help answer your specific questions. 12-Step or Alcoholics Anonymous groups have resources for most addictive behaviors. Do a Web search on "addiction" or "compulsive behaviors."

But keep in mind, the majority of people who enjoy shopping at this time of year do not have addictive, potentially problematic behaviors.

Nancy L


  1. I look for reasons not to shop at this time of the year.

    What does that make me?

  2. Hi Pam:

    I think that means you're healthy! Personally, I shop online - lol.


  3. From hitting the mall with your girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon, to holiday spending on gifts that go under the tree, shopping could be called one of America's favorite pastimes.

    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. But to avoid being addicted with these you should always remember that you should buy what you need and not what you want.
    Suffering from an addiction. This website has a lot of great resources and treatment centers.


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