The Surprising Science Behind Consumer Debt Addiction

Posted on March 2, 2016 at 12:00pm by
Student debt defaults are on the rise.

We have all known someone who has greater difficulty controlling spending. Why does this happen? Addiction is an insidious force that causes otherwise rational people to behave irrationally.

Does shopping feel good? Neuroscientists at Emory University have argued shopping releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter) into the brain, a powerful ‘feel-good’ chemical. The good feeling you get right before buying a fancy new gadget or car? That’s dopamine telling your brain to be satisfied. Researchers believe dopamine can explain “impulse purchases’, such as buying products we never use.

It’s easy to see how shopping can become addicting. Dopamine is also a neurotransmitter responsible for drug addiction. People can become addicted to the “feel-good” experience of shopping.

For the true ‘shopaholic’, shopping can become more powerful than being fiscally responsible. Much like drug addicts and alcoholics, shopaholics are more prone to making bad decisions. Instead of suffering from poor health or incarceration, shopaholics can find themselves stuck in financial ruin, addicted to purchasing more products they can no longer afford.

An addiction is a condition that causes cravings, which can lead to loss of control and poor choices. Shopaholics may crave buying new products while having no control over what they buy. This is the harsh reality of consumer debt addiction.

Why Consumer Debt Addiction Might Be Common

According to the American Journal on Addictions, 7 percent of Americans can be described as compulsive buyers, or about 20 million people. Whether or not this means 20 million Americans are “true shopaholics” is up for debate.

The Sader Law Firm has decades of combined experience helping the people of Missouri and Kansas navigate through business and consumer bankruptcy.