Millions of Americans every year cope with an addiction. Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. When most people think of addiction they envision someone who is abusing hard drugs; to the point where they have lost everyone and everything that was once important in their lives. Addiction can be more than a compulsive need to consume a substance. Individuals can be addicted to sex, gambling, exercise, eating or a number of other activities. Addictions are understood to be chronic compulsive actions that can be hazardous to emotional, social, and physical health. A recent study has exposed a strong relationship between shopping addiction to drug and alcohol addictions. There are several symptoms that are similar between the two.

The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale

A new scale has been created that could effectively measure shopping addiction. The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale was developed by researchers form the University of Norway. The study found that addictive shopping is more prevalent in women and has similarities to drug and alcohol addiction. The analytics of this scale has been applied to other addictions. The first of its’ kind and has found that addictive shopping has been found to start in late adolescence and emerges in adulthood, but it decreases with older age. There are seven basic criteria that people can answer on the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale. The scale ranges in terms of: 0-completely disagree, 1-disagree, 2-neither disagree nor agree, 3-agree, and 4-completely agree. Self-assessment is feasible with the seven warning signs: you think about shopping/buying things all the time, you shop/buy things in order to change your mood, you shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations, you feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before, you have decided to shop/buy less, but have not been able to do so, you feel bad if you for some reason are prevented from shopping/buying things, and you shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being. Experts agree that if you score a 12 or more on this scale, then you may be at risk for problematic shopping.

Shopping Addiction

Like other addictions, certain personality traits contribute to the development of problematic shopping. Research has found that extrovert and neurotic people are at high risk for shopping addiction. Extroverts are typically social and sensation seeking, which means that shopping can be their way to enhance their social status and personal attractiveness, or express their individuality. Similarly, people who are anxious, depressed and self-conscious are traits of neurotic people who might use shopping as a way to ease those negative feelings. Shopping addiction is related to anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. In these cases, the action of shopping is a coping mechanism, which can also cause negative feelings.

The advancement of technology has made shopping addicts more prevalent today than ever before. Problematic shopping can now be accomplished with extraordinary ease, which is only increased with the pressures created from social media, credit cards and advanced marketing.

The study also found that individuals who are conscientious, agreeable and who like new and intellectual stimuli are at a lower risk for problematic shopping. These individuals have better self-control and see shopping as a conventional activity.

Shopping Addiction and Substance Abuse/Addiction

The idea of certain personalities or traits increasing the likelihood of developing a shopping addiction is identical to other addictions. The Bergen Scale can be used for drug or alcohol addiction if the words buy/shop were swapped for consuming alcohol or consuming drugs. Anyone who uses substances to alter their mental state to improve their lives is an addict. Drug addicts and alcoholics use those substances to the extend it interferes with their normal lives. This is identical to the question on the Bergen Scale. The similarities between shopping addiction and substance abuse/addiction are undeniable.