How to cure shopping addiction
Alison Armstrong for the Guardian Professional Network guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 June 2011 If we really are a nation of shopaholics, then maybe there's something to be learnt from studying self-declared shopping addicts. That was the premise behind a ground-breaking RESOLVE study which followed a small group of people trying to 'cure' their addiction to shopping using innovative 'mindfulness' training. Shopping addiction, or oniomania, affects an estimated 8-16% of Britain's adults; that's 8 million people. The stereotype is that more women are affected than men. Research, including our own, shows this to be true. But if you include gadgets, sports equipment and computer accessories/software, then it's as prevalent among men and problematic. Popular discourses on shopaholics treat the condition with humour. But the reality of being addicted to shopping is far from comical. Within the group of compulsive buyers studied, individuals were facing crippling debt, severe depression and anxiety, and had lost or were losing key relationships: "I've lost the respect of my children ... all that's really important (is for) them to still accept me as their mum," said a respondent. Yet, the addictive allure of the shops and the promise of continual reinvention of the self through buying kept them trapped in the buying habit. So what drives buying, and at levels unsustainable on a finite planet? For many, shopping is a means of lessening negative emotions, such as worry, anxiety, sadness, loss and loneliness and provides an escape from those feelings, if only for short time. Retail therapy works. Buying and owning material items can help feel complete and more the person others like to see. "[If] I go into work in new clothes, I feel more believable, more accepted," said a respondent. But such a feeling can apply to all, but a compulsive buyer is obsessed with shopping despite experiencing negative consequences. Our study proposed the concept...
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