Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Online Shopping: Is “Drink Buying” A Problem for You?

PHOTO Some online shoppers are indulging their temptations and  making purchases they might not have made if sober.

Andrea calls them “gifts” from her drunk self to her sober self.
Some online shoppers are indulging their temptations and making purchases they might not have made if sober.

When she hasn’t been drinking, the 26-year-old New Yorker says that she rarely does more than browse online retail sites. But give her some booze and the buying begins.

“Get some drinks in me and I’m more likely to bite the bullet and figure out where to store the crap later on,” she said.

Andrea, who asked to withhold her name to protect her privacy, said she’s shopped under the influence more than a dozen times, but the habit comes and goes.

“I’ll do it several times over a month and then forget about it for a while,” she said. “Luckily, I haven’t bought or won anything terribly extravagant. Generally, I am pleasantly surprised about my purchases.”

After her latest late-night spree, she said awoke to the whole Doc Savage comic book series, the movie “Popeye,” with Robin Williams, the children’s book “Mouse Tails,” and (her favorite) the book “Statistics for the Utterly Confused.”

Along with her list of drunken purchases, she posted on her Facebook page, “Can we PLEASE get a breathalyzer on these things?”

While inebriated Internet buying may not be be an epidemic, it’s also not that unusual. A spokesperson for an online retail site, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, said that intoxicated-sounding shoppers regularly call the site’s customer service asking for help placing orders.

“They’re trying to get a little roadside assistance on the shopping piece,” the spokesperson said, adding that sometimes the customers need technical guidance, while other times it sounds like they just want to hear a friendly voice.

Andrea said she’s partial to things that remind her of childhood memories (her very first drunk purchases were the book “The Phantom Tollbooth” and a whittling kit), but, occasionally, she said she wakes up to the just plain bizarre. “I [bid] on a plaster casting kit, which is rather surprising as I have no idea what I was thinking of doing with it,” she said.

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But no matter what her sober self finds in the morning, she said she never thinks of returning anything. Why? “[I’m] way too embarrassed,” she said. Psychologists say the habit is fairly harmless as long as people don’t take it to extremes or spend extravagantly. “Normally, when we haven’t had a drink or two, our rational selves intercede between the emotion and the action and we say, ‘Oh, I don’t really need that’ or ‘Oh, I don’t have the money right now,'” said John Grohol, a clinical psychologist and founder of the online mental health resource PsychCentral.com. “But alcohol takes that one step away, that rational voice away, and we go directly to the emotion and the behavior.” Source: ABC news

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May 15, 2010 - Posted by | Addiction, Alcohol, Books, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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