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Compulsive Shopping and Addiction

You can never have too much of a good thing, right? That’s what some people might be saying in a few days.

That’s because today is Black Friday, a day when many people shop ‘til they drop, or at least a day when they want to shop a lot.

Many people are free to hit the malls or online stores because they do not have to work that day, since is the day after the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the United States. Black Friday also falls about a month before Christmas and many consider it the start (or near the start) of the busy holiday retail season.

But shopping, like other addiction and other behaviors, can be dangerous. Scoring the perfect gift for someone at an amazing price may be harmless fun to some. To others, it might be a sign of something darker.

Some people are compulsive shoppers. That means that shopping controls areas of their lives, just like using alcohol or drugs controls other people who struggle with substance abuse.

Researchers aren’t sure why this is the case. They believe that compulsive behaviors like shopping and gambling and the abuse of alcohol and drugs may be related to genetic predispositions and triggering factors in the environment.

Compulsive shopping may sound frivolous, but the results are anything but lighthearted. Spending a great deal of time shopping can prevent people from going to work or school, spending time with their friends and family members, or taking care of other things in their lives.

Shopping, too, costs money. Again, this is money people could use for other pursuits in their lives. Spending all of this money could create stress for compulsive shoppers and their loved ones.

Such stress could depress compulsive shoppers and cause their self-esteem to plummet. They could turn to shopping as a way to end this depression, thus creating a self-destructive vicious cycle.

While there is no cure for such compulsive behaviors or addiction, people may find that therapy helps them. Therapy can help people explore why they shop and develop coping mechanisms to prevent them from falling on such behaviors in the future.