How to Treat a Credit Card Addiction

Credit card addiction can stem from compulsive shopping and spending, and it is just as dangerous of an addiction as alcohol or drugs because it can be masking the emotional toll of depression, anxiety and/or loneliness. It can have devastating effects on an individual or a family because of the financial implications of spending too much with your credit card, as well as the subsequent money woes that can ruin marriages and careers.


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    Identify first if you have a shopping addiction.
    • Shopping addiction occurs when your purchases start to become inappropriate, excessive or out of control.
    • Shopping addiction stems from a lack of impulse control.
    • Shopping addictions often elicit feelings of a high or a rush. This happens when the endorphins and dopamine in the body kick in, which can in turn reinforce the behavior because addicts want to get to that state or feeling again.
    • Other warning signs are spending over your budget, compulsive buying, if the problem persists over time, hiding the problem, purchasing and then taking items back out of guilt, or if the problem is impairing your relationships.
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    Identify next if that problem extends into a credit card addiction.
    • Look at your credit card use. Are you using credit cards for most all of your purchases?
    • Are you only making the minimum payment on your credit cards?
    • Are you hiding your credit card bill from your significant other?
    • Are you juggling your credit card balances and your interest rates to stretch out the time in which you need to pay?
    • Do you make a habit of purchasing items and then returning them? You buy them on impulse but realize when you get home that you can't afford them. Then the guilt drives you to take them back.
    • Do you shop when you are in a bad mood?
    • Have you been unsuccessful when you try to stop your compulsive spending?
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    Weigh your different treatment options.
    • Consider one-on-one personal therapy. This can be the most costly option, but a counselor can help address your impulse control issues and give you alternate suggestions for when you are feeling the urges.
    • Try a support group. Debtors Anonymous is a support group set up to help people recover from compulsive debt issues.
    • Seek financial counseling. This step should and can be done in conjunction with other treatment methods, particularly if you have amassed a large amount of credit card debt. Knowing how start making payments appropriately can help alleviate fears, and it can be a starting point to healing wounds within families caused by debt and deception.
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    Take additional personal steps toward your recovery.
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    Make a shopping list when you go out, and only purchase what you need and what appears on that list.
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    Get rid of the majority of your credit cards. Keep one to use for an emergency only.
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    Only go window shopping after the stores close for the day, and if you feel the need to do so while open, then leave your wallet at your house.
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    Avoid the shopping networks on television.
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    Create a substitute behavior for when the urges hit you. Think about going for a walk or exercising instead.


  • Many addictions come in clusters, so seek help for all aspects of your addictions if you are experiencing other addictive behaviors in conjunction with this issue such as alcoholism, gambling addiction or eating disorders.
  • You never need a credit card 'for emergencies'. This sort is thinking is very unhelpful. Sure, you would need one, but not five.

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Categories: Credit and Debit Cards | Addictions