Various surveys have determined that around two million people in the U.S. are addicted to gambling, and for as many as 20 million citizens the habit seriously interferes with work and social life. (Scientific American)

Like many of the behaviors and struggles we have discussed throughout our website, shopping and gambling, when enjoyed in moderation can be a pleasant activity. However, for some, it becomes a problematic behavior that interferes with healthy living

When Shopping & Gambling Become Problematic

Where is the threshold that is crossed from healthy and enjoyable shopping and/or gambling to unhealthy and problematic? Much of the indicators are similar to other disordered behavior.

  • Compulsive need to engage in the behavior shopping/gambling.
  • Drive to increase amounts of money used for shopping/gambling.
  • Mood changes related to the (in)ability/(un)accessibility to engage in shopping/gambling.
  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, moderate or eliminate shopping/gambling behavior.
  • Shopping/Gambling in response to anxiety, depression, distress, or other mental health symptoms.
  • Chasing losses to “get even” or “turn more” (gambling)
  • Purchasing items despite limited or lack of finances (shopping)
  • Shoppers remorse & returning items (shopping)
  • Lying to conceal shopping/gambling behavior from family, friends, loved ones.
  • Shopping/Gambling behavior puts job/family/relationships/opportunities in jeopardy, but despite that, behavior continues.
  • Asking for money/resources from others to support shopping/gambling behavior.

Shopping, Gambling, & Trauma

Gambling Addiction is identified in the diagnostic manual that clinicians use (DSM-5), while Shopping Addiction is not. However, the presence (or lack of) in the manual does not change the fact that both behaviors are often symptomatic of underlying and unresolved trauma.

  • “Shopping helps me escape from my feelings.”
  • “Gambling is a way to get away from everything at home.”
  • “I always return the stuff I can’t actually afford.”
  • “I’ll pay everyone back once I get that big win – you have to play big to win big.”

Problematic shopping and gambling are an escape – from something. 

That something is triggered by pain.

Pain is caused by underlying shame. 

Shame is created by trauma. 

Shopping and gambling become the symptom. When clients attend our program and are able to heal from their pain, shame, and subsequent trauma, the symptomatic behaviors are reduced or eliminated.  

Call us to learn more about how we can help with your shopping or gambling addiction.