Sense & Sensitivity

Friend Needs Help With Shopping and Food Addictions

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my closest friends has a terrible shopping habit. With all the money she’s spent in the past year, I think she could have made a down payment on a home. I not-so-jokingly told her she has a problem, which she acknowledged. Now the problem is getting bigger because she’s putting on a lot of weight. The last time I saw her, she looked seven months pregnant. How do I get her to face her problems without shopping or food? -- Facing the Truth, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR FACING THE TRUTH: There may be a bit of good news in your friend’s situation -- namely, that she has some awareness of her problems. Clearly, something is wrong on the inside that is causing your friend to try to make up for it by shopping or eating. Addiction often has its cause in an emotional dearth. Your friend needs to figure out what is hurting her deep down inside in order to be able to free herself of the source of her pain.

You can recommend that she get mental health counseling. Suggest that talking to a professional may help her to break free from her unhealthy habits and dive deep into her life to unmask whatever is creating such difficulty. Of course, getting a physical is also helpful. She may get guidance on weight loss and fitness that will help her immediate health concerns. But mental health support is needed to help her turn an emotional corner toward overall well-being.

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