Addiction to substances like drugs and alcohol is a major problem in the United States. However, certain behaviors can also result in addictions developing around them. In recent years, some doctors expanded the definition of the word “addiction” to include behaviors. These behaviors include common, everyday activities like shopping.

The Relationship between Alcohol and Shopping

Although doctors are not sure how shopping addiction develops, they think that the root of both alcohol and shopping addiction is based in the brain, likely involving the brain’s reward pathway. If a person struggles with a substance like alcohol, they are at risk of developing an addiction to a behavior like shopping.

Doctors realized that compulsive buying and shopping is a type of impulse control disorder. However, it is important to note that the American Psychiatric Association, a major group that helps doctors identify and treat mental health problems in the United States, does not recognize shopping addiction at this time. The group is waiting for more studies to be conducted on shopping addiction. Similarly, although the World Health Organization does not specifically recognize shopping addiction, they recognize the more general category of impulse control disorder. Shopping is placed in the impulse control category.

Dangers of Alcohol and Shopping

Addictions to both alcohol and shopping can be harmful. Besides the multiple health consequences of alcohol addiction, there are also damaging consequences associated with a shopping addiction. These consequences include:

  • Debt
  • Feeling out of control
  • Relationship problems

Unfortunately, people with shopping addiction often already have other problems with which they struggle. The most severe forms of shopping addiction occur in people who have a low income and have a mental health problem in addition to their shopping addiction.

Similarities Between Alcohol and Shopping Addiction

Addictions to both substances and behaviors like shopping have a lot in common in terms of how they impact the brain and how they impact a person in general. These similarities include:

  • Both alcohol and shopping are thought to activate the brain’s reward pathway
  • At first, a person feels pleasure when shopping or drinking alcohol
  • They then spend a lot of time thinking about shopping or drinking alcohol
  • They eventually have a hard time stopping shopping or alcohol use
  • Alcohol and shopping begin to interfere with other areas of their life

Alcohol and Shopping Addiction Statistics

It is common to have more than one addiction at a time. Multiple studies found that when a person has an addiction, they are likely to struggle with more than one substance or behavior. Only 11% to 13% of people with addictions have an addiction to only one substance or behavior.

Studies estimate that overall, 6% of people have a shopping addiction, and 10% of people have a problem with drinking. However, if a person has a problem with shopping or drinking, they have a 20% chance of having both problems together. Although some studies showed that up to 95% of people with a shopping addiction are women, it is unclear if women are more likely to have a shopping addiction, or are simply more likely to report it.

Alcohol and Shopping Addiction Treatment

Because there is no official diagnosis of shopping addiction, there is no standard treatment. However, treatment methods have been used for addressing shopping addiction with success.

Some studies showed that treatment with an antidepressant like citalopram may be helpful to treat shopping addiction. Doctors think this may be because shopping addiction shares some similarities with mental health problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder, which can also be successfully treated with antidepressants. Some doctors also believe that cognitive behavioral therapy may be useful to help people with a shopping addiction.

In addition, alcohol addiction can be successfully treated with a detox program followed by a custom rehab program.

Key Points: Alcohol and Shopping Addiction

Important points to remember about alcohol and shopping addiction include:

  • It is possible to not only be addicted to substances like alcohol, but also to behaviors like shopping
  • Although there is no recognized diagnosis of shopping addiction at this time, it is thought to be an impulse control disorder
  • Struggling with alcohol abuse puts people at risk of developing an addiction to behaviors like shopping
  • Shopping addiction may be treated with an antidepressant or therapy, while alcohol addiction can be treated with rehab

If you or a loved one live with alcohol addiction, contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how addressing the substance use disorder using individualized treatment programs is best for long-term sobriety. Don’t let addiction control your life. You deserve a healthier future, call today.