TODAY | October 01, 2012
>>> back at 8:35 with an intimate look at the life of a compulsive spender. part of "my shopping addiction " a new show on nbc's sister network, oxygen. here is how one woman explains the thrill behind her spending.
>> i shop when i'm happy, i shop when i'm sad. i shop when i'm tired. when i'm bored. when i'm mad.
>> kim kardashian has nothing on me. omg. what do she have? oh, she's hot! i like to shop.
>> marsia hawkins is with us now, along with a licensed clinical psychologist who treats compulsive shoppers on the show. ladies, good morning. marsia , you give us a smile. but this is serious. you feel you have a shopping addiction ?
>> i definitely have a shopping addiction . every time i go to the store, i pretty much have to spend.
>> and as i understand it, you have a shoe collection valued at over $30,000. handbags, $12,500. and your real love , dresses, $60,000. that could not have happened overnight.
>> no. it was progressive. about ten years worth of shopping started working in retail.
>> yeah. you got that discount and thought hey, i'm saving money here.
>> dr. romney , we heard about dr. drew's rehab program. but shopping addiction . this is a real disorder.
>> it very much is. because people are bringing themselves to financial ruin. they're hurtinging their relationships. they can't stop themselves. so this can really bring a life down and create years of debt and really big problems in all areas of their lives.
>> marsia , you have such a cute personality, and we saw that in the piece. but do you feel like you understand now what is driving this? what takes it beyond just somebody who enjoys shopping?
>> i did. working with dr. romney , i kind of identified the root of the problem and knowing where it started which is when i was in middle school and bullied a lot, didn't fit in with the kids, played violin, accelerated classes and different languages and didn't fit in. and i realized all the girls that were accepted and were popular were fashionable. they wore the hottest trends and garnished the attention and acceptance of others so i figured how do i fit in and i think that's where it began.
>> you started getting positive reinforcement with that.
>> i did.
>> but how has this affected your life? you found yourself going into debt? has it made problems with your friends and family?
>> i definitely have. i got into credit card debt , maxing out all of the credit cards , borrowing money from friends, robbing peter to pay paul . you know, my parents, family members --
>> i heard your parents said when you tried to borrow some money, they said uh-uh, forget it.
>> no. they said if you have money to shop, you don't need money from us.
>> oxygen, which, of course, has this show on the network, released a poll. part of which only 6% of americans admit they are addicted to shopping. but then if you ask, do you know someone who is addicted to shopping, the number shoots way up.
>> that's a very interesting disconnect. and it speaks to how many people don't have insight into the fact that this is a real problem for them. often until it's too late or someone else points it out to them.
>> you ran, marsia , through some exercises.
>> oh, yeah.
>> give us an example. how do you crack an addiction like this?
>> one way to crack an addiction like this is not let people respond in their usual way. go into a store, but don't buy. and marsia , you were not a happy camper when i said you can shop all you want, pull things off the rack, but you're walking out of here empty-handed. that was hard.
>> did you find that made a difference?
>> i mean, it was hard, because i didn't know that i couldn't spend. she sprung it on me. i thought i had a $500 gift card so i was excited to spend and at the end they said there is no money on this card. i was devastated.
>> so what have you had to go through psychologically to get to a better place ? and do you think you're doing better now?
>> i definitely think i'm doing better. i've actually consolidated all my credit cards so i don't have one credit card to spend. so if i don't have the money in the bank , i don't -- no shopping. which was the biggest step thus far, which was $16,000 already removed from my debt.
>> and dock dor tore, how do you know if you're somebody who likes to shop or have a problem?
>> i think if you're out of control, you're thinking about it a lot and it fills up a lot of your time. if a person is shopping four or five times a week, that's a lot. so it's time, money and the people you're affecting. you ask yourself those three questions and there's the answer.
>> marsia , and dr. romney , good to have you here. thank you and good luck to you.
>>> and a reminder, you can catch the premier of "my shopping addiction " monday night at