Signs of an online shopping addiction and what to do about it

addictedMost people shop online at least once a month, mainly due to the convenience and efficiency of this method of shopping. By purchasing things online, shoppers can compare prices, brands, saving time and money, an all from the comfort of their own home. But what happens when online shopping becomes an addiction? Here is some information on the signs to look for, and some advice form experts on how to deal with this particular addiction.

Secretive shopping

The first sign of online shopping addiction is if you do it in secret. Waiting until the family goes to sleep, or lying to others about what you’re doing (saying you’re doing something else when you’re really shopping online) are signs of a shopping addiction. Hiding your problem means you probably feel ashamed of something; most likely how often you indulge in this behavior. In fact, deterioration of relationships with loved ones is a clear sign of any addiction, and an online shopping addiction is no exception. Withdrawing from friends and family, lying about what you’re doing, and avoiding spending time with others in order to feed the addiction are all signs of needing help.

Neglecting other duties and priorities

Another sign of online shopping addiction is when you start to neglect other duties or priorities in order to spend that time shopping online. If you’ve started to neglect housework, your job, spending time with your family, or other activities you used to spend time on, you may be addicted to online shopping. Online shopping addicts are often thinking of shopping online even when they’re doing other things or away from the computer. If your thoughts have been taken over by this habit, then you may have a problem.

Racking up debt

Obviously racking up a big credit card bill from your online shopping is a clear sign of an addiction. If you’re spending more than you can afford and racking up debt on online purchases, you probably have a problem. It is even more likely that you are an addict if many of these purchases aren’t even things you want or need, but you buy them anyway because you enjoy the rush of the purchase. Also, if your online shopping addictive behavior continues even after you have suffered the negative consequences (debt, impaired relationships, etc.) then you may have a serious problem.

The emotions of an online shopping addiction

Finally, if your online shopping causes you to feel very emotional (good or bad), that is not a good sign. Generally speaking, addictions cause us to have fluctuating emotions including excitement, euphoria, disappointment, and guilt. Having such strong feelings as a result of shopping online is a sign of an addiction. It is also possible that you have an online shopping addiction if you feed your habit when you’re feeling down (for example, after you had a bad day).

Some techniques to help you deal with your online shopping addiction

If you have recognized that you have a problem and want to get help, there are some techniques you can try on your own. If these strategies don’t work then it may be time to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor that specializing in addictions and compulsive behaviors.

First of all, if you’re going to beat your online shopping addiction you’ll need to give yourself some rules and stick to them. Being self-disciplined will be very important and key to your recovery. You should also tell others about your problem and your decision to stop. This will hold you accountable for your actions, and others will try to intervene if they see you slipping back into your old ways.

An important technique is to make rules for yourself such as setting specific times when you are allowed to use the internet for shopping or other activities, and set a certain maximum monthly, weekly or even daily budget for your online purchases.

Another strategy is to erase your credit card information and delete your accounts from the sites you normally shop on. That will make it less convenient and easy to make quick purchases, and force you to really think about your actions before its too late.

A severe, but also effective technique is to cut up all of your credit cards (after you’ve erased the details from all of your online accounts) and starting living on cash only (and give yourself a budget).

Now that you’ve cut up your credit cards and set rules for yourself, it is time to find something else to do with your time. Make plans with friends and family, sign up for a new class, or join a gym; whatever you can do to fill up your schedule with activities that will keep you occupied and away from the computer. Boredom will be your enemy during the shopping addiction recovery process, so make sure you are too buy to think about shopping online.

Asking a loved one for help by becoming a type of sponsor may be necessary if you find yourself obsessing about online shopping and feeling like you’re going to slip. Enlist the help of someone you trust that you can call anytime you’re feeling an urge to shop. Having support and being able to talk about your problem.

Finally, if these techniques don’t work, don’t feel bad about it. Many people need professional help to conquer an addictive or compulsive behavior. Get a referral from your doctor for a psychologist or therapist. You could also see if there are any support groups or public services offered for people with shopping or internet addictions (you fall into both categories). Having the support of others going through the same thing could help you with your own addiction.

Being addicted to online shopping is something that could happen to anyone. If it has happened to you and you want to beat your addiction and turn your life around, try these techniques to see if you can kick the habit yourself. If it doesn’t work, then professional help may be the answer. Any addiction can affect our lives in negative ways, and this addiction is no exception, so recognizing the problem now and deciding to do something about it is a great start.