Addictions can be tricky things. Very often, the person suffering from the addiction is unaware that they are in fact addicted. A shopping addiction is one of the hardest to admit to. Most compulsive shoppers will tell you that they’ve got it under control. Helping them can be a very tricky business. But watching a loved one indulge an addiction is one of the hardest things to do and to help them the first thing to be done is to stage an intervention.
Convincing an addict of an addiction is not easy, but it is important to talk to the person and explain that their shopping addiction is having an adverse effect on the people around them. Shopping addicts most often indulge in such behaviour to ‘feel better’. So, the first step in helping should be to identify the underlying problem that manifests as the addiction. Shopping addicts usually know that they have an underlying cause of distress but need help in admitting that they do. Having family and friends address the problem together can be a great way to help them get in touch with their inner selves and identify the problem.
It is important to remember to not antagonise the person you are trying to help. They may misconstrue your intentions as hostile or judgemental and become hostile to your attempts to help themselves. Denial is a natural response before coming to terms with an addiction and it requires to be handled carefully. While talking to a shopping addict, it is important not to seem judgemental or like you blame them. Let them know that you are there for them, and that you care. Knowing that your concern comes from a place of love and affection can help them identify their weakness.
Once the initial breakthrough has been achieved, attempt a recovery plan together. Help by suggesting solutions such as minimising temptations, making lists before setting out to go shopping, using only cash and getting rid of credit cards (these encourage indiscriminate spending without a feeling of guilt). Shopping addiction is a serious and recognised addiction, and seeking help from a counsellor is a good idea. And since this addiction is usually symptomatic of a deeper underlying problem such as depression, it cannot always be sorted out by simple superficial solutions.
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