Dec. 1, 2007 — -- What's better than being able to afford to go shopping at trendy, high-end boutiques?
Getting paid to go shopping at those very same boutiques.
Rumors are swirling after an MSNBC gossip columnist reported that stars like Lindsay Lohan actually get paid to hit up stores like New York City's Armani Exchange and Intermix.
"[Lohan's] asking price began in the six-figure range before dropping to $20,000," wrote Scoop reporter Courtney Hazlett.
Lohan's rep denied the allegations.
"Lindsay was not paid and this is insulting," Leslie Sloane Zelnick, Lohan's publicist, told ABCNEWS.com. "She likes to shop; most people do."
Armani Exchange, one of the stores Lohan is accused of shopping at in return for cash, denied the report and said that while Lohan did visit its New York City location on Black Friday, she was not compensated in any way.
Intermix was couldn't be reached for comment.
It's very common for celebrities to receive a fee for shopping at a particular store, said S.Tia Brown, a senior editor at InTouch Weekly. "Celebrities lend credibility to the brand and make the store a go-see place. It's a good investment for the shop."
It's relatively common for a celebrity to get paid for showing up at particular clubs, said Brown, and now shopping is coming with similar incentives.
The 21-year-old starlet has recently been spotted frequenting Los Angeles shopping hot spots such as Kitson and the Grove ever since she returned from her two-month stay at ritzy Utah rehab facility Le Cirque.
Photograph after photograph by paparazzi show Lohan trying on new sunglasses, juggling multiple shopping bags and doing everything she can to avoid the flashes from the hoards of cameramen following her as she ducks into stores on L.A.'s Robertson Boulevard.
And the spending doesn't stop there. Lohan has been caught on film eating out at some of the fanciest and most expensive Los Angeles restaurants, sometimes even eating out multiple times a day.
Lohan enrolled in rehab after she was charged with drunk driving and cocaine possession.
But Lohan certainly isn't the first (nor the last) troubled celebrity to find comfort in her credit card.
Lisa Timmons, editor of celebrity blog Socialitelife.com, told ABCNEWS.com that Britney Spears also went on a shopping binge following her time in rehab.
"Celebrities can really go crazy indulging … because they have the money to spend," said Timmons. "Lohan looks like she got lip injections -- and cosmetic surgery is certainly one way to spend a lot of money in [L.A.]. She also has new highlights in her hair and a spray tan."
While some may say celebrities could be doing far worse than spending their fortunes -- like drinking heavily or using drugs -- psychologists told ABCNEWS.com that compulsive shopping by people who have previously wrestled with addiction could be a cause for concern.
"In terms of substance abuse, an overwhelming number of people come out of rehab and resume their addictive behaviors," said Andrew Tatarsky, a clinical psychologist who specializes in drug and alcohol abuse treatment. "And many who do stay sober … still find themselves switching to other addictive activities, such as shopping, working or eating."
And as for so-called retail therapy -- the excuse often used to justify shopping binges -- Tatarsky told ABCNEWS.com that when you're dealing with addicts, excessive shopping probably won't further a patient's recovery.
"If shopping can help people manage difficult situations and times, then we might say it's actually therapeutic," explained Tatarsky. "But that's very different from getting into a compulsive relationship with shopping and letting it become a quick-fix high that gives you a temporary rush."
Tatarsky said he has treated several patients who have shopped compulsively as a way of coping with other troubling issues in their lives, such as substance abuse.
One of his clients admitted to having a closetful of expensive designer clothing and accessories that still have their tags attached -- a clear indicator, said Tatarsky, that overindulging was only a temporary distraction that left her feeling even worse.
The goods "served as a kind of antidepressant and a way of dealing with stress. But really, she's avoiding dealing with difficult issues in her life."
Psychologists told ABCNEWS.com that it's "overwhelmingly" common to see a patient who is fighting addiction also then suffer from compulsive behavior.
"[Addicts] have some sort of compulsive bent," said Ron Huntsecker, president of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. "They're searching for something to try to fill the void, be it alcohol or drugs or even shopping or relationships. We see it over and over again."
"People who are addicted are not able to experience normal pleasure without the use of drugs or alcohol, and that the same kind of thing apparently is true with shopping," said Huntsecker.
To treat this type of compulsive behavior, Huntsecker advises patients to seek the same treatment they did for their initial substance abuse, which he said is the ultimate root of the problem anyway.
"If a person is truly interested in recovery, it has more to do with not using or not drinking -- it has to do with how they approach life, and that includes their other compulsive behaviors," said Huntsecker. "Lifestyle change is very difficult. I don't think anyone should kid anyone -- it's not easy."
"It's just too easy to say, 'Stay way from shops.' It's the same thing to tell an alcoholic to stay away from alcohol," Huntsecker added. "You need support around you that allows you the small steps. Shop normally once, and then the next time it's a little easier."