HSMF 687-D01 Women in Counseling Shopping Addictions

HSMF 687-D01 Women in Counseling Shopping Addictions

Description of Shopping Addictions

Shopping is thought of as a necessary part of modern life and it presents itself as a leisure activity that many may consider to be harmless (Gallagher, Watt, Weaver & Murphy, 2016, p.37). Expressions such as “shopaholic”, “retail therapy” and the notion of “shop til you drop”, have quickly become commonplace in today’s popular culture (Darrat, Darrat, & Amyx, 2016, 103.) Research suggests that consumers will often resort to compulsive buying out of their personal need for affection and a sense of belongingness (Darrat, Darrat, & Amyx, 2016, p. 103).  Gallagher et al. (2016) compulsive buying involves some preoccupations with buying or urges to buy, in which the experiences are intrinsic and uncontrollable (p. 37).

Compulsive buying (CB) which has been reported throughout the world is described as a pattern of chronic, excessive, and repetitive purchasing behavior that has become extremely difficult to shot in response to negative events, or feelings of uncontrolled urges (Zhang, Brook, Leukefeld, De La Rosa & Brook, 2017, p. 208). According to Benson and Eisenach (2013) compulsive buying has three cardinal features” irresistible impulses to shop, the loss of control over shopping behavior, and the persistence of such behavior in the face of adverse personal, social, and financial consequences (p. 5).

Hague, Hall, and Kellett (2016) believes that compulsive buying disorder is distinguished by a motivation to feel better, rather than it being a factor that is derived from excessive spending and materialism alone, repeatedly creating serious associated impacts on one’s lives, such as high debt, relationship problems, elevated risk of criminal behaviors, and suicide attempts (p.379).

Compulsive consumption is defined as “a response to an unsubstance or any type of activity that can lead individuals to repetitively allow themselves to engage in certain types of behaviors that will ultimately cause harm to the individual and or/to other”(Darrat, Darrat, & Amyx, 2016, p. 103). Darrat, Darrat, and Amyx (2016) asserts that for those that engage in compulsive behaviors, they commonly do so in order to cope with stresses of life, to escape the demands and pressures against them, or to overcome the unpleasantry of their emotions or situations (p. 103).  In addition to being used as a way to coped with the stresses of life, negative emotions and everyday pressures, compulsive buying is often associated with a less than desirable self-worth (Lee, Park, & Lee, 2016, p.1904).

The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery (An Affiliate of UnityPoint Health) there are various social and cultural factors that can increase the addictive potential of shopping and spending. The easy availability of applying for credit and the material focus of society in general, tends to encourage people to accumulate possessions now and have to worry about their financial responsibility later. The abilities to purchase has been made much easier with the easy accessibility of on-line shopping and television stations; which devote time to buy twenty-four hours a day. Compulsive buying is defined as an impulse control disorder and has features similar to other addictive disorders without involving the rise of an intoxicating drug (www.addictionrecov.org).   Sohn and Choi (2013) compulsive buying can be categorized and as “impulse control” disorder not otherwise specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders IV (DSM-IV-TR) (p. 244). Impulse buying can occur when a consumer experiences a spontaneous and unplanned urge to purchase something and then will act on their impulse quickly, with little to no thought of their purchase or the following consequences (Lucas & Koff, 2016, p. 330).

Current Statistics of Shopping Addictions

Lee, Park, and Lee (2016) the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the retail e-commerce saline in the United States for the last quarter of 2013 reached over 69 billion dollars in the United States. This totaled about 6 percent of all retail sales in that period (p. 1901). Benson and Eisenach (2013) despite the variations in percentages and sample populations, such studies have unveiled compulsive buying as a serious specter hanging over millions of Americans. Bowen and Eisenach (2013) an all-time high of nearly six billion credit offers went out to America’s three hundred million people–more than twenty offers per year to every man, woman, and child (p. 6). This resulted in easy credit, and that ubiquitous equation of “more equals better”, has led to plummeted savings and a skyrocketing number of bankruptcies (Benson and Eisenach, 2013, p. 6). Yet the accurate conception of the “typical” compulsive buyer remains elusive (p. 5). Research shows that the popular stereotype; pinpoints a 30 something female who has been buying compulsively (Benson & Eisenach, 2013, p. 5) sine her late teens or twenties. Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is a global disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of 5.8 percent in the general population of the United States (Sohn & Choi, 2013, p. 244). These results were based on results from a random telephone survey of 2,513 adults.  Rose and Dhandaydham (2014) currently  estimates that 60 percent of the United Kingdom adult population has begun to take part in online shopping activity and in 2012 saw a year-on-year growth of about 16 percent in online sales against an overall increase in retail growth of 4 percent (p.84).  However, research showed that 92 percent of the respondents that were compulsive shoppers were women (Black, 2007, p. 14).  Black (2007) community based and clinical surveys suggests that approximately 80 percent to 95 percent of those with compulsive buying disorder are women. Benson and Eisemach (2013) conducted research study with a much narrower focus; they assessed the prevalence of compulsive buying using three sample groups (university staff, undergraduate students, and customers of an online women’s clothing retailer) (p.4). They identified that about 8.9 percent of personnel staff, 15.5 percent of the undergraduate students and about 16 percent of the online customers were compulsive buyers (p.5). This study showed that the prevalence of compulsive buying among the men was 5.5 percent, and among the women it was 6 percent (Benson & Eismach, 2013, p. 6).  Benson and Eisenach (2013) sates that “as troublesome as it may be, the likelihood that women are more likely to be overrepresented in the studies that are conducted because the culture attaches far less stigma to women who shop compared to men (p.5).

Research into shopping has proved that although shopping is an important need today, it can also be a leisure activity and a form of entertainment that has its rewards and values for some people (Maraz, Griffiths, & Demetrovics, 2016, p.5).  Compulsive buying behavior goes unnoticed and often results in negative consequences; 5.8 percent of large debt os accumulated, 41.7 percent of people cannot make payments towards the debt, 8.3 percent face legal and financial consequences, 8.3 percent will have criminal legal problems and 45.8 percent will experience some sort of guilt (Maraz, Griffiths, & Demetrovics, 2016, p. 5).  The consumer style is prevalent in many cultures throughout the world; and in the United States, 75 percent of the respondents to a survey reported having made an impulse purchase (Lucas & Koff, 2016, p. 330). Women particularly have allocated a significant amount of economic resources, spending $750 billion annually on clothing alone (Lucas & Koff, 2016, p. 330).

Symptoms and Causes of Shopping Addictions

The development of a shopping addiction is thought to be influenced by a combination of several different factors. The most common risk factors for shopping addiction are gender and age, with young women hang the highest risk. Research and evidence suggests that compulsive shopping runs in families where there are extremely high levels of mental health and substance abuse addiction issues. Depression and general anxiety disorder are the most common comorbidities of person suffering from compulsive buying disorder (Project Know, 2018).

Despite multiple studies highlighting the severity of the negative consequences that compulsive buying leads to, the latest edition of the DSM-5 does not show compulsive buying disorder due to the limited research in the field. Those individuals that have to deal with the condition are placed within the residual category of “Unspecified disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorders” (Maraz, Griffiths, & Demetrovics, 2016, p. 4). According to Zhang et al. (2017) early midlife (mid- forties) is the unique developmental period when the consequences of many mental health problems, including compulsive buying manifest itself (p. 208). However, to the extent that a person’s compulsive buying influences ones overall quality of life is uncertain, especially in the United States; where compulsive buying has been viewed as a behavioral condition (Zhang et al., 2017, p. 208).

Compulsive buying is associated with mounting tension, general distresses, and lower quality of a person’s psychological well-being (Muller et al., 2014, p. 103). Muller et al., (2014) those that have compulsive buying tends to suffer from the comorbid psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, binge eating disorder, substance abuse use disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and compulsive hoarding (p. 103). Compulsive buying disorder was included in the earliest attempts at classifications of mental disorders as “impulsive insanity” but has since largely ignored until the last few decades (Hague, Hall, & Kellett, 2016, p. 379).  Hague, Hall, and Kellett (2016) states that “compulsive buying disorder is has also been conceptualized to be a form of obsessive compulsive disorder” (p. 379).

Weinstein, Mezig, Mizrachi, and Lejoyeux (2014) depression continues to display high frequency among compulsive buyers (p.46). A study that was conducted showed that when depressed, participants were only happy and felt better when they were shopping. A high prevalence of 31.9 percent of depressives has been diagnosed as compulsive buyers (Weinstein, Mezig, Mizrachi, & Lejoyeux, 2014, p. 47). Compulsive buying is also high among persons who are depressed and have been diagnosed with impulse disorders (intermittent explosive disorder, kleptomania, pyromania, pathological gambling, trichotillomania, and non-specified impulse control disorder) (Weinstein, Mezig, Mizrachi, & Lejoyeux, 2014, p. 47). Bani-Rshaid and Alghraibeh  (2017) believes that “Compulsive buying also appears to be a little more common in depressed individuals and people who have a tendency to falsely believe in the benefits of buying (p.47).  According to Ozer and Gultekin (2015) as stated “affect, mood, emotions, and feelings are effective at all levels of the process of consumer decision making”, but mood is said to be a “taken as feeling state” (p. 71).  Mood is not intense and continuous; however, it might also be regarded as a more general feeling state. It is claimed that when a person has as more positive mood; they spend more (Ozer & Gultekin, p. 72). When an individual is having a positive mood, they avoid factors that threaten their mood, so as they maintain their present mood; they are experiencing “mood maintenance”. When an individual has negative mood, they tend to participate in activities that make them feel better; they are experiencing “mood management” (Ozer & Gultekin, 2015, p. 72).

Granero et al. (2016) finds the study of clinical profiles and various risks factors for compulsive buying disorder to show that some gender-dependent differences do exist, on the send that risk, prevalence, and rates of initiation and frequency of misuses are higher for women (p. 2). The primary basis for placing Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as an anxiety disorder is the central role anxiety plays in OCD. Obsessiveness that leads to a sense of mounting anxiety and engaging in compulsive behavior or mental acts can reduce anxiety (Bartz & Hollander, 2006, p. 338).  As theory and research progresses, Obsessive compulsive (OC) spectrum disorders are placed into three clusters. The second cluster is characterized by impulsivity; with respect to behavior that can lead to negative consequences (p. 340). Those that suffer with obsessive compulsive disorder have impulse control and will experience increased arousal and tension in relation to their impulsive behaviors, but aside from those with OCD, engaging in the impulsive behavior that is typically associated with pleasure, albeit short lived (Bartz & Hollander, 2006, p. 340).

In contrast, the behavior theory explains that compulsive buying disorder is an acquired behavior that results from associations between a conditioned and a natural stimulus when the individual make a purchase he or she begins to experience the joy, and thus buying becomes an “enhanced stimulus” that is again repeated to gain joy (Bani-Rshaid & Alghraibeh, 2017, p. 47).  The cultural theory describes compulsive buying as an existing cultural phenomenon that constructs buying—more specifically, the compulsion to satisfy a wide variety of needs which in turns compels individuals to make unnecessary purchases. The social learning theory describes compulsive buying a learned behavior that occurs through social interaction with other compulsive buyers. This in turn states that those that suffer from compulsive buying behaviors have learned through observing others and being heavily influenced by them (Bani-Rshaid & Alghraibeh, 2017, p. 48).

Treatments for Shopping Addictions

            At present, there are no proven standard pharmacological treatments for compulsive buying disorder (Sohn & Choi, 2014, p. 244). For those individuals that are dealing with a shopping addiction, some may have a co-curring psychiatric disorder, so some parts of their treatment are treating those other disorder; which may have residual effects of reducing compulsive shopping behaviors. Research shows that the best way to treat shopping addictions is with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of talk therapy–primarily done in a group setting.  According to Kopala and Keitel (2017) cognitive behavioral therapy in the form of exposure and response prevention (ERP) has been established as a highly effective treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (p. 457). Black (2007) when individuals choose to participate in psychotherapy it helps then to discover and tell their stories as a means of understanding and to ultimately gain control of heir symptoms. Individual psychotherapy may be the choice for the very high functioning individual who does not present other major addictive issues but are those who are very much in the minority.

Even though data for group therapy is still being collected, group therapy is believed to provide the most positive consistent evidence of successful treatment. According to Benson and Eisenach (2013) there are several reasons why a homogeneous group can effectively help those recover from compulsive buying. Group settings will help, an individual diminish the feelings of loneliness and helps them to increase feelings of being intuitively understood. Group therapy helps individuals to release overwhelming feelings of failure, guilt, shame, humiliation that triggers CBB (p. 8). The groups participants are able to provide feedback from each other; which helps them to correct the distorted self-concepts, to reframe from dysfunctional thoughts (Benson & Eisenach, 2016, p.9). Counseling is also good for compulsive buyers because if helps individuals to focus on the specific problem and helps them to create an action plan to stop the behaviors. The primary goal of counseling is to stop the compulsive buying cycle and to produce a stable financial situation that will enhance, rather than tarnish, and individuals quality of life (Benson & Eisenach, 2013, p. 6). The prevalence and impacts of addictive disorders are well searched and provides a context for the rationale for the creation of an addiction counseling specialty. On the lower end of the spectrum, one in four Americans struggle with some kind of addiction disorder; this number fails to account for those affected vicariously ((Hagerden, Culbreth & Cashwell, 2013, p. 124).

Granero et al. (2017) indicates there are no specific medications that are approved for the treatment of compulsive buying behaviors (p58) and no studies have shown any medications to be effective (Lejoyeux & Weinstein, 200, p. 52).  Psychopharmacologic treatment studies have yielded some varied results. In earlier studies, it has been suggested that antidepressants could curb cognitive behavioral disorder and an early open-label trial using fluvoxamine, showed benefit (Black, 2007, p. 17). Kopala and Keitel (2017) research has found that clomipramine (a non-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) of any SSRI (e.g. fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline), can effectively treat obsessive compulsive disorder. In general, a combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy is recommended in cases where obsessive compulsive disorder or when individuals fail to respond to psychotherapy alone (Kopala & Keitel, 2017, p. 458).

Jack and Ronan (2008) bibliotherapy is of recent origin. However, the idea of reading as a means to produce change in the human behavior was recognized in the human behavior in the early days (p. 162). The prescribed use of books to help heal the human condition appears to have began in institutional, medical, and correctional facilities in the early days to help people cope with mental and physical conditions (Jack and Ronan, 2008, p. 164). Today, the use of bibliotherapy has sense moved outside of hospitals and into therapeutic, educational and community settings. It is currently positioned as a sensitive, non-intrusive method of helping to guide individuals towards helping them to problem solve and cope in their personal lives, a technique that is used to stimulate discussion about problems which otherwise, at least in some cases, might not be discussed out of fear, guilt, or shame (Jack & Ronan, 2008, p. 172).  Benson and Eisenach (2013) Debtors anonymous a twelve-step program is treatment that helps individuals get cured with solvency, which means that abstinence from any new purchases or debt is the equivalent of sobriety for an alcoholic. Simplicity Circles provides a place for individuals to gather with others to discuss their personal transformations and living in the satisfactions of a more simpler life. These simplicity circles introduce healthy ways to meet some of one’s principles needs that a compulsive buyer sees to fill through shopping, including belongs to a community of like-minded individuals (Benson & Eisenach, 2013, p. 8).

Biblical Perspective on Shopping Addictions

            God’s word teaches us, that controlling our circumstances will not change our hearts when it comes to spending or suffering from and addiction. A woman’s mind will go back and forth with spending; whether it is five dollars or one hundred dollars. Before one ever had a problem with where their money went, they already had a problem with where their “eyes” went. When an individual is constantly thinking about their next shopping trip or has their mind on their next small/big purchase, they have steered their minds and heart in the wrong direction; which has allowed them to become enslaved to their own skewed perspectives. There are millions of women who are addicted to what is known as “compulsive shopping”. Compared to other addictions, shopping is a seemingly respectable habit and often goes under the radar in most of their lives.

Matthew 5 (KJV) Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down, His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. In Jesus ‘Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus warns his disciples not to “lay up for themselves treasures in heaven, where moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal”. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 5:3-12 (KJV) The Beautitudes: Jesus said the finely fortunate people are those who are rich in things that matter to God, not those who have money, power, popularity, or fame. The things that are important in God’s kingdom are often opposite of the worldly things we find so attractive. For the poor in spirit may lack money, fine clothes, luxury cars, or even the necessities of life, but they put their trust in God instead of worldly things.

Matthew 28:15-16 (KJV) So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. Like all addictions, they are so very hard to break from because they seem to have a life of their own. Jesus has all the authority in heaven and on earth.  Galatians 5:1 (KJV) “For freedom Christ freed us. Stand fast therefore and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage”. Jesus power can break those who are suffering and living in bondage; he can be called the “bondage breaker” He is the only one that can break a person and free them from the bondage of compulsive shopping. If a compulsive shopper does not deal with the root of their addictions, then they will simply replace the current one with another one. Freedom from addictions come to those who trust in Christ and allows him to bring deliverance from their addictions of compulsive shopping. Once a person understands the truth about their addiction, they will be able to stand on the line with the enemy and resist the temptation to give in. So, the next time a person finds themselves dealing with their addiction, they should stand fast on God’s word and battle with the truth. God comforts those that love and believe in him; and he “covers” those that are believers and stand firm on his word. Most importantly, when all else fails; ask “What Would Jesus Do?’.  Colossians 2:10 (KJV) Christ has provided all the fulfillment we could ever need.

Homework Assignments to help with Shopping Addictions

            According to Eng (2010) she suggests there are several different things that a person can do to avoid shopping binges. She suggests that paying for purchases by cash, check, or debit card. It is wise to make a shopping list and only making purchases that are on your list. It is suggested that one destroy all credit cards; only keeping one for emergency purposes. It is also suggested that one avoids discount warehouse. It is very important that if one, wants to go to a discount warehouse, to only allocate a certain amount of money. Also, to avoid binge shopping she thinks it is best to window shop, only after the business has closed, take a walk or exercise when the urge to shop comes up, avoid phoning in catalog orders and avoid shopping channels.

In conclusion, shopping addictions are prevalent among many Americans. It is very imperative that if one has any inclination that they are suffering from compulsive buying disorder, they need to recognize they have a problem, seek treatment, and continue to seek guidance.


Bani-Rshaid, A. M., & Alghraibeh, A. M. (2017). Relationship between compulsive and

depressive symptoms among males and females. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and

            Related Disorders, 14, 47-50. Doi: 10.1016/j.jocrd.2017.05.004

Bartz, J. A. & Hollander, E. (2006). Is obsessive-compulsive disorder an anxiety disorder?

Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 30 (3), 338-352.

Doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2005.11.003

Benson, A. L. & Eisenach, D. A. (2013). Stopping overshopping: An approach to the

treatment of compulsive-buying disorder. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery,

            8, 3-24. Doi: 10.1080.1556035X.2013.727724

Black, D. W. (2007). A review of compulsive buying disorder. World Psychiatry,6,14-18.

Darrat, A., Darrat, M. A., & Amyx, D. (2016). How impulse buying influences compulsive

buying: The central role of consumer anxiety and escapism. Journal of Retailing

            and Consumer Services, 31, 103-108. Doi: 10.1016/j.jretcpnser.2016.03.009

Eng, R. (2010). How can I manage compulsive shopping and spending addiction: Shopoholism.

Indiana University’s Medlines. http://www.indiania.edu/~engs/hint/shops/html

Gallagher, C. E., Watt, M.C., Weaver, A. D., & Murphy, K. A. (2017). I fear, therefore, I

shop!” explaining anxiety sensitivity in relation to compulsive buying.  Personality and

            Individual Differences, 104, 37-42. Doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2016.07.023

Granero, R., Fernandez-Aranda, F., Bano, M., Steward, T., Mestre-Bach, G., del Pino-Gutierrez,

A., Jimenez-Murcia, S. (2016) Compulsive buying disorder clustering based on sex, age,

onset, and personality traits. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 68. 1-10

doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2016.03.003

Granero, R., Fernandez-Aranda, F., Mestre-Bach, G., Steward, T., Bano, M., Aguera, Z.,

Mallorqui-Bague, Aymami, N., Gomez-Pena, M., Sancho, M., Menchon, J.M., Martine-

Romera, V., & Jimenez-Murcia. (2017). Cognitive behavioral therapy for compulsive

buying behaviors: Predictors of treatment outcome. European Psychiatry, 39, 57-65.

Doi: 10.1016/i. eurpsy2016.06.004

Hagerden, W.B., Culbreth, J.R., & Cashwell, G.S. (2012). Addiction counseling accreditation:

CACREP’s role in solidifying the counseling profession. The Professional Counselor,

            2(2), 124-133.