Being a shopaholic or oniomaniac as it is clinically known as is a serious condition which is thought to be affecting 6% of the Australian population. It is characterised by the incessant need to shop either to fill a void or provide emotional support. Michelle Laving and Jill Chivers give their perspective on the problem as an addiction expert and oniomaniac.
To some, it may sound comical to be addicted to shopping, but to those affected, it can wreak havoc on their financial security, put stress on their relationships and diminish their self-esteem with feelings of guilt and shame. Addiction specialist Michelle Laving suggests that the incidences of oniomania have increased due to the easy access to credit cards, disposable income and boom in online shopping.
Uncover what is driving your need to shop and why you cannot control it.
To those with oniomania, Michelle encourages you to seek help from a professional and uncover what is driving your need to shop and why you cannot control it. On a daily basis be mindful of the factors that may be causing you to shop compulsively; mood, the desire to look wealthy, status, power, etc. Jill Chivers, a confessed oniomaniac, realised her addiction after a buying her third identical animal print trench coat. After her epiphany she decided to go a week without buying clothes and to keep herself honest she decided to keep a blog about her experience. What stood out to Jill were the immense feelings of guilt and embarrassment when she bought anything. Throughout the year she learned that she had to be overly aware of where she went and to avoid areas where she was vulnerable to give in to her addiction.
Michelle encouraged family members to keep an eye out for their loved ones who may be showing signs of oniomania. Try and be non-judgemental and gentle with them and urge them to see a professional. Oniomania is similar to substance addictions and those on the road to recovery can relapse so be there to support them and get them back on track. Lastly, know that shopping can be a form of emotional support, so be there for them and encourage them to be kinder to themselves.
Luckily, there are many places to go if you’re struggling with oniomania. There are general addiction specialists that may be familiar with the problem, or Michelle Laving has the Steps to Simplicity program. If financial troubles are a particular problem for you there are financial counsellors available nationwide and a Debtors Anonymous which puts a stress on a spiritual element. If you’re feeling like you need encouragement from someone who’s been there before, visit Jill Chiver’s blog.