The Celebrity Therapist

The Celebrity Therapist

Shopping Addiction: How do you Know When you Have Reached your Bottom?

I was helping someone today move out of her apartment and
could not believe how much clothes she accumulated.  I wondered if it was because shopping filled
an empty void for her as she trudged through a bad relationship.  I started to wonder when does one cross the
line into a shopping addiction? 

I discovered that one in 12 people in the United States
struggle with what is known as oniomania or what the more common term,  “shopaholic.”

Some of the symptoms you might look for if you think you
have this disorder include:

Suffering from another addiction in the past
such as substance abuse, gambling, sex or love addiction, food, or
co-dependency and crossing over to becoming a shopaholic.


Maxing out credit cards and not paying normal bills
and expenses.

Have several jobs to pay off the debts.

Having a closet full of clothes that has never
been worn.

As you may know, sometimes a shopaholic or any addict has to
reach rock bottom before they seek help. 
You can find a 12 step meetings for compulsive shopping, seek a
psychotherapist, or see a life coach who specializes in recovery.  My book The Law of Sobriety covers all addictions;
no matter what they are; even compulsive shopping.


The first thing you do is to admit and acknowledge you have
a problem.

Always shop with others.

Join a 12 step group.

Talk thru the purchase and see if you will feel
guilt or remorse after you buy it.

Learn how to be comfortable in your dis-comfort.


Learn to breathe and live in the moment.

Prevent a relapse by staying away from malls,
internet shopping, or catalogs.


I often see individuals cross in to other addictions time
after time.  There is help out there so
seek it out if you believe your shopping has crossed the line into addiction.  Often the void can be filled with a higher power
and understanding of what is going on beneath the layers of the addiction.  What trauma are you avoiding?  What void are you trying to fill up with
shopping?  The answers are there if you
just listen and seek assistance to help you get through your pain.

  • sherry gaba

    Thank you Angela for your perspective. I so appreciate having colleagues adding their spin on things. Thx Sherry

  • Angela R. Wurtzel, MA, MFT

    Like other process addictions, compulsive shopping and spending involves thinking, planning and hiding going shopping and the goods. It is also so easy to rationalize over shopping because most people engage in it to some degree. In my work with people who compulsively shop it is so important to understand the underlying psychic hunger that lies beneath all of the “stuff”.

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