Shopping Addiction and Black Friday

shopping addiction

One result of America’s capitalistic economy is a culture of consumerism. Every day, we see dozens of ads encouraging us to buy the latest electronics, smartphones, cars and luxury items like jewelry and cosmetics. Commercialism peaks during the holiday season, as retailers push shoppers to buy gifts for family members, friends and themselves. According to one recent survey, the average American will spend nearly $1,500 on holiday shopping in 2021, which represents a 5% increase over last year. 

Many retailers that operate on slim margins count on the profits they bring in during Black Friday sales to keep them afloat for the next several months. Amid concerns about supply chain shortages this holiday season, many companies have started advertising their Black Friday discounts and deals earlier than ever before. The ongoing pressure to shop and spend large sums of money – perhaps more than you can realistically afford – may make the holiday season uniquely stressful for you, especially if you struggle with a shopping addiction or any co-occurring mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. 

Warning Signs of a Shopping Addiction

Like other behavioral addictions such as gambling, shopping addiction is a byproduct of your brain’s pleasure and reward system. For some people, the act of buying new things causes a rush of feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine, and over time, that pleasure becomes addictive. For some people, even thinking about shopping is enough to spark feelings of happiness.

Surrounded by a culture that continues to reinforce the message that shopping is patriotic and supports the economy, how can you recognize whether your shopping habits might be problematic? Red flags of a shopping addiction include:

  • Justifying buying things you don’t need because they are on sale
  • Hiding evidence of shopping trips, such as purchases or receipts
  • Buying a cart full of items you plan to return later
  • Compulsively using shopping to improve your mood or cope with negative emotions
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed of how much you spend
  • Continuing to buy expensive items despite negative consequences, such as going into debt

How to Stop Spending Money

If money always seems to burn a hole in your pocket and you’re feeling pressured to spend too much during Black Friday, here are some strategies you can try to avoid breaking the bank this holiday season.

1. Give Heartfelt, Handmade Gifts

If you enjoy arts and crafts, you can save a considerable amount of money by putting handcrafted presents under the tree this year. For example, homemade candles can brighten your gift recipients’ lives for a fraction of what you’d normally spend in a retail boutique. Or, consider baking festive cookies and decorating them by hand. 

2. Organize a Group Volunteer Outing

If you have a group of friends, colleagues or family members who usually put together a gift exchange during the holidays, consider suggesting a volunteer activity you can all do together. Nonprofits like food banks, soup kitchens and animal shelters are almost always looking for volunteers, especially during the holidays. Instead of experiencing buyer’s remorse, you will all end the day feeling better about what you’ve accomplished.

3. Create Coupons

Another way to avoid spending too much money this holiday season is to design coupons your gift recipients can redeem for services. For example, any friends with children would probably jump at the chance to get an afternoon of free babysitting or help with household chores. Vehicle owners can almost always use a car wash. Or, if you love cooking, you could offer to make a home-cooked meal for an older family member who doesn’t get out much anymore. 

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in Prescott, Arizona

In many cases, behavioral addictions, substance abuse and mental illness go hand in hand. If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, Canyon Crossing can help you make a fresh start. We offer women’s-only programming across a continuum of care that includes long-term treatment and transitional living. Contact us today to learn more.  

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
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