Self-Help Groups for Shopping Addiction

Man with laptop and credit card shopping online
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Self-help groups can be a helpful resource if you have a shopping addiction. Surrounding yourself with a community of people who have shared the same or similar experiences can be extremely beneficial.

Like most problems in life, it can help to talk to others who know exactly what you’re dealing with because they’ve been there, too. If you're a compulsive shopper, you can gain a new perspective on your addiction through support group work.

This article discusses some of the signs of a shopping addiction and some of the reasons why you might find a self-help group beneficial. It also covers some of the best shopping addiction support groups that are available both online and in-person.

Signs of Shopping Addiction

Everyone overspends now and again, but research suggests that between 3.3% and 16.9% of people engage in compulsive buying. It also tends to be most prevalent among women and online shoppers.

The disorder typically begins in the late teens or early adulthood. It often co-occurs with other mental health conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, other impulse control disorders, and personality disorders.

If you’re wondering whether you or a loved one’s shopping is out of hand, start by determining if these characteristics apply:

  • Buying things you don’t need even though you can't afford them
  • Engaging in binge shopping
  • Experiencing a strong urge to buy
  • Feeling disappointment, stress, and guilt after shopping
  • Hiding purchases for fear others will think what you’ve bought is irrational
  • Responding to direct mail offers
  • Spending all or part of any money you have
  • Using "retail therapy" to deal with stress

If the majority of these characteristics apply, you or your loved one may have a compulsive buying disorder.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a shopping addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Reasons to Try a Self-Help Group

A self-help group for shopping addiction can help people gain insight into their addiction. Joining a group can also help you:

  • Avoid feeling isolated or helpless
  • Develop a network of nonjudgemental people 
  • Find resources for treatment
  • Gain a better understanding of addiction as a disease 
  • Identify and sidestep emotional triggers 
  • Relieve stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Talk openly about your experiences and feelings

Joining a support group has many benefits such as helping you identify your triggers and developing coping techniques to manage feelings of distress. You'll also find a community of supportive, understanding people and information about available treatments.

Self-Help Groups to Try

It can be helpful to look at the variety of self-help groups that are available for people grappling with compulsive buying disorder, as well as for their families and friends. Whether you prefer to join an online support group or supplement the support you get at in-person meetings with online meetings, you'll be able to find one that's right for you.

Debtors Anonymous

Debtors Anonymous was first started in 1968 when a group of recovering members from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began discussing their financial problems. According to its website, the group's purpose is threefold: "to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience with the newcomer, and to reach out to other debtors."

Today, the group has more than 500 registered meetings in more than 15 countries worldwide, where you can share your struggles and help others who are overcoming overspending.

Spenders Anonymous

Spenders Anonymous is a 12-step group based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous; however, there is no organizational affiliation between the two groups.

Spenders Anonymous strives to help people stop spending compulsively, take responsibility for their money, and spread the message of recovery to other compulsive spenders.

The only requirement for membership is a "desire to stop spending time, money, energy, and our very selves beyond all reason," according to its website.

Stopping Overshopping

Stopping Overshopping was founded by April Lane Benson, PhD, a nationally known psychologist who specializes in the treatment of compulsive buying disorder. It is an online program designed to help people overcome their shopping addiction and take control of compulsive buying behavior.

Services include a self-help program, private coaching, and group coaching. The program utilizes a variety of tools including coaching sessions with trained therapists, journals, videos, audio recordings, and an app to help people control buying behavior when an urge strikes.

Shopping Addiction Support Group

Shopping Addiction Support Group is an online support group with over 35,000 members where you can post about whatever you're dealing with and receive support and advice from other people who have experience with compulsive shopping. In order to get started with the group, you will need to submit a request to join after creating a user account.

Summary

Shopping addiction is considered a type of behavioral addiction, but it is not recognized as a distinct disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It is also referred to as compulsive spending or compulsive buying and is characterized by symptoms such as strong urges to buy, binge spending, feelings of guilt, and hiding purchases. Talk therapy can be helpful in managing spending, as can self-help and support groups that are designed to offer resources, encouragement, and sympathy.

A Word From Verywell

Shopping addiction can have a serious impact on your life and finances. If you think you might be struggling with compulsive spending, talk to a doctor or mental health professional. Psychotherapy, support groups, and medications can be helpful for taking control of your spending and managing your urge to shop.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Filomensky TZ, Tavares H. Compulsive buying disorder. In: el-Guebaly N, Carrà G, Galanter M, Baldacchino AM, eds. Textbook of Addiction Treatment. Springer International Publishing; 2021:979-994. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-36391-8_69

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