Transcript for Shopaholic: I've 'Hit Rock Bottom'
Americans in debt and a new -- from the Federal Reserve showing that consumer debt rose seven point 5% at the end of last year. Much of that was racked up on credit cards. Well tonight we meet a woman at the extreme who says she can't stop charging even things. She doesn't -- here's ABC's Cecilia -- I want my clothes. Shoes and housewares. I think that it -- necessarily feel -- thinking about -- Just that's. You name -- Ronnie Perry wants to -- For most people a trip to the mall -- well just a trip to the mall. For Ronnie it's a universe of dangerous temptations. Because Ronnie is a shot by hauling. When you come to a place like this do you feel like you want to go shopping. Yes it's more than wanting to go. It's a healing and needing to know. The -- show alcoholic has become shorthand to describe their legions of women who loved to shop. Well Ronnie is among the estimated 6% of Americans struggling with compulsive shopping -- Okay a roller coaster ride of endorphins fueled high is and guilt -- new -- Years. Finds that a hundred dollars today rice credit card debt is more than 50000. Dollars that's on top of the 2000 she borrowed against her last home. While she says she has no choice but to declare bankruptcy. Would be a predator thing but usually -- and -- content. Still -- husband of almost twenty years works two jobs to keep the family -- he says enough is enough. Over a 100000 dollars in debt because of your shopping guess is that number. Infuriating to you it's to the point where you -- to throw in the towel and walk away. -- -- -- did you go from being a girl likes to shop to being someone who's considered a compulsive shopper just think it was several. Slowly escalating that. Even realize it until it was. It started as a young girl watching the latest fashion then later as a mom wanting the newest toys for her kids. Soon she was shopping in secret -- -- things from her husband. -- -- -- something you know my fondness for which she maxed out her credit -- she then moved on to her husband's. He goes to the extreme of copying down. Card numbers and hired -- -- even went to the point to call the bank can disguise her voice has me. How was it possible for a woman to lose it all over closing she used. Hanging three. All it takes is one shopping trip with Ronnie to seat but then I don't want just one sentence send and I want to come -- here. And pick up five of its -- ten bottles of so. Probably fifteen part of her compulsion she buys everything in sat. I have to -- her every possible outcome you know he -- a deal regular right so the idea -- to hit. -- -- Back at home in her were true. Dozens of identical pairs of shirts and when Ronnie finally went completely broke she still went shopping. She just couldn't afford to pay for what she talk. And the only way to sell the land. Just take things. To take the place of the things -- would've bought before. Last month Ronnie was busted this mid western soccer mom was cuffed fingerprinted and thrown into -- cell. It was -- LAU you hit rock bottom now there's no credit now Ronnie says it was the wake up calls she needed. -- -- My babies or harm this has an acceptable. You have to behind -- need to be with your kids. This is destroying -- -- You admit that you were powerless over your shopping. A few days later Ronnie desperately reached out to shopping addiction specialist Terry Schulman. There's a core of low self esteem and insecurity. That I'm not good enough who with who I am when she feels some anger sadness -- -- -- -- -- to fill -- -- the problem -- -- -- -- -- -- -- her favorite -- to -- how to look but not by. Be nice -- -- street characters and of course while all of them. All of them. That hurts to vikings and sets Terry says it stems from rice childhood when her parents got a divorce and it's almost like you -- separate. There's a feeling of being abandoned were being rejected having to you know just pick one was like taking away from a family. For Ronnie recovery could take years of therapy but the first steps includes strict new rules. We're one -- We'll just by name on it if she wants to write a check that I have to sign. Buying into the T you're kind of the data of the teenage girl and so -- -- -- -- -- -- that's exactly -- and indicated optimism and. It is -- least tenth birthday and Ilyce trusting Ronnie -- by the party supplies and word. Can make sure her husband humor and I don't need any of this other stuff. That our planet I -- And walk away from that. Ronnie has clearly made progress but she doesn't know if she'll ever be fully cured. She does know now is how much her addiction has cost her. The will you ever be able to go back into a store. And feel like it's -- -- walk out without buying something. Yes I'll get there because I I can't. Not -- that I have to -- Our men and again -- -- my family and that's too high principal. For Nightline I'm Cecilia -- in Lansing Michigan.
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