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Tough Time For The Compulsive Shopping Addict [AUDIO]

"Black Friday" Marks Start Of Holiday Shopping Season
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

The holiday shopping season may be over, but as many New Jerseyans head out this week to make their returns, there are still bargains to be had.  Those deals won’t be so easy to resist for the compulsive shopping addicts who are especially vulnerable this time of year.

“Shopping is a way they have of trying to cope with the stresses of life,” said Psychologist Dr. April Benson. “It’s a misguided attempt to meet important needs that have nothing to do with that sixth pair of black boots. Through the purchases, it’s hoped that the person will feel better about themselves and feel more attractive and powerful.”

As with any addiction, for compulsive shoppers, buying something creates a feeling related to the euphoria a drug addict or alcoholic feels when they ingest drugs or alcohol.

“Sometimes, people acquire objects as a way of dealing with chaos and feeling out of control. If you buy something, you can control it,” said Benson. “It may make the person feel good temporarily, but that feeling doesn’t last and then the bills come in and the person ends up worse than when they started off.”

How do you know if you have a shopping addiction? “If you’ve tried to stop and you haven’t been able to, that’s the sign of a shopping problem. If the time, energy and money you spend doing this is interfering with your life, it’s a problem,” she said.

In order to control the urge, a shopping addict needs to see it as an issue. “It’s important to understand what function over-shopping is serving, figure out how it came to be, what triggers it and what the consequences are. The over-shopper needs to figure out what it is he or she is really shopping for,” said Benson. “Then find ways to meet those underlying needs that enhance life, rather than erode it.”

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