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The Financial Destruction of Shopping Addiction

The negative effects of shopping addiction can often go unchecked, especially in a world full of online ordering and celebration of material goods. It may not seem as serious as other addictions, but it can lead to disastrous financial consequences and even emotional dependence.

Is “Shopping Addiction” a Real Thing?

Many people joke around about how they’re “addicted” to shopping. It’s often a cute quirk that will make people smile at the spending habits of their family and friends. While there are plenty of individuals who find genuine joy in buying commercial goods, there can be a fine line between shopping as a hobby and shopping as an actual addiction.

Compulsive Buying Disorder

According to a 2007 study in World Psychiatry, shopping addiction is known as compulsive buying disorder (CBD), which is “characterized by excessive shopping cognitions and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment.” CBD is found worldwide, with a lifetime prevalence of 5.8% in Americans. The study notes that about 80% of CBD subjects are women.

World Psychiatry also mentions that CBD tends to run in families that are “filled with mood and substance use disorders.” It’s been shown to have significant psychiatric comorbidity, meaning that many individuals with CBD also experience other disorders like mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD).

Repetitive, Uncontrollable Behavior

A 2022 study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions notes that compulsive buying is “more than excessive spending.” Instead, it is an “uncontrollable behavior, typically triggered by negative emotional states.” People with CBD may try to mask their pain with the short-term positive rewards they gain from shopping. Unfortunately, this can lead to negative consequences that continue to add up until the cycle is broken.


According to a 2016 study in Addiction, “the consequences of compulsive buying behavior are often underestimated.” The study found that:

  • 58& of those with CBD had large debts
  • 42% were unable to meet payments
  • 33% were criticized by acquaintances for their shopping habits
  • Eight percent had both legal and financial consequences
  • Another eight percent had criminal legal problems
  • Nearly 46% felt guilty about their compulsive buying behavior

Financial Consequences

It may seem obvious, but it’s necessary to note that CBD can lead to dire financial consequences. Similar to gambling, shopping addiction can lead to a mountain of debt. In worst-case scenarios, homes and cars may be lost in the financial turmoil.

According to the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, compulsive buyers “typically have unmanageable amounts of debt, which create economic and emotional problems for themselves and for their families.” Debt can also lead to a depreciated credit score. Those who experience CBD may be unable to purchase homes, rent apartments, lease vehicles, or even get certain jobs that are dependent on their creditworthiness.

Mental and Emotional Consequences

Financial turmoil is not the only consequence of shopping addiction. It can be argued that the mental and emotional consequences may be much worse.

People with CBD may rely on shopping as a source of happiness. The action of purchasing can boost serotonin levels in the brain, producing a false sense of pleasure. If an individual tries to break the compulsive buying cycle, they may be left with feelings of depression and anxiety as serotonin levels drop.

Debt and financial consequences can also produce a myriad of emotional consequences. People with CBD can feel mounting anxiety as they worry about how they’re going to make ends meet and feel even worse if they’ve let down their family because of their addiction.


According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, persons who reported compulsive buying behavior are “more likely than comparison subjects to suffer lifetime mood disorders (especially major depression) and to suffer more psychiatric disorders in general.” Compulsive shopping may even be a method to cope with mental health disorders.

Many people who experience CBD and other process addictions may also have unresolved trauma. Traumatic experiences can cause people to cope in a number of ways, whether they’re aware of their trauma or not. This is why it’s important to get to the root cause of a process addiction in order to fully treat it.

Treatment for Shopping Addiction at The Guest House

If you are struggling with an addiction to shopping, it may be time to seek treatment. At The Guest House, we treat a variety of process addictions as well as substance use disorder (SUD), mental health disorders, trauma, and more.

Programs and Therapies

The goal of treatment at The Guest House is to help you re-discover true joy and happiness without the need to engage in self-destructive behaviors. We fully believe in establishing a strong mind, body, and soul connection that will allow you to cultivate a sense of deep self-love and compassion.

We offer traditional therapies like individual talk therapy and group sessions to help you process your thoughts and emotions in a supportive environment. You will also find a number of different holistic healing methods like meditation, sound healing, conscious connected breathwork, and more.

At The Guest House, we believe in an approach that fully caters to you, the individual. Our comprehensive programs will support your journey and help you heal from the struggles affecting your lifestyle and well-being. We offer a wide variety of therapies, programs, and practices that will help you get to the root cause of shopping addiction so you can heal from the inside out.

Shopping addiction, or compulsive buying disorder (CBD), affects nearly six percent of Americans throughout their lifetime. CBD can have disastrous negative effects, including financial turmoil and debt. It is also highly co-morbid, occurring with many mental health and substance use disorders. At The Guest House, our aim is to help you overcome process addictions, like CBD, from the inside out. We offer a wide variety of traditional and holistic programs to help you fully heal your mind, body, and soul. Traditional talk therapy and group sessions will give you a supportive outlet to process your thoughts and feelings. Non-traditional methods, like meditation and sound healing, will help you cultivate a deeper sense of self. Call us today at (855) 483-7800.