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Spring 2020 Edition

Addictive Disorders

Is Compulsive Spending Creating Problems in Your Life?

According to a Stanford University study, 17 million Americans or 6% of the population are compulsive spenders or shoppers. Researchers from the University of Florida reported that the average compulsive spender is carrying $23,000 in debt (not including a home mortgage). Compulsive spending can be thought of as a chronic tendency to purchase products far in excess of a person’s needs and resources. Are you a compulsive spender? At what point does a fun shopping habit become a problem behavior that needs to be addressed?

Consequences of compulsive spending

One of the main differences between compulsive spending and non-compulsive spending is that compulsive spending usually results in negative consequences. Some of these consequences are:

  • Stress from increased debt or trying to figure out how to pay for everything.
  • Marital or relationship difficulties due to hiding overspending or lying about it.
  • Legal, family and relationship difficulties caused by massive credit-card debt
  • Guilt and shame associated with the problem of compulsive spending.
  • Increased anxiety and depression.

What’s behind compulsive spending? Compulsive spending is a symptom of a bigger problem. Compulsive spenders use shopping as a way to improve their mood or avoid troubling feelings like depression, sadness, anger, emptiness, boredom or low self-esteem.

Do you have a problem?

Review the questions below. If you answer “yes” to more than one of these questions, you may be a compulsive spender:

  • Do you shop as a means of relieving stress or escaping everyday problems?
  • When you are shopping, do you experience feelings of euphoria and experience?
  • Do you feel guilty or remorseful after shopping?
  • Do you ever hide your purchases from relatives or loved ones?
  • Do you buy things on credit that you would not normally buy if you had to spend cash?
  • Is your shopping habit causing emotional stress, financial debt or ruined credit in your life?

What to do

Admitting that your spending is out of control is the first step to overcoming a problem. For free and confidential help for you or one of your dependents, contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for professional counseling, referrals or additional information. We’re here to help you.



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Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to provide medical advice on personal wellness matters. Please consult your physician for medical advice.