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Drug Offers Hope To Those Suffering From Compulsive Shopping

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - There is a drug on the market that's offering hope to those who suffer from a shopping addiction.

As CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, the shopping addiction goes beyond compulsive shopping to satisfy an emotional void, or just because it makes you feel good.

Rather, this is uncontrollable behavior as a result of a brain injury.

Now, a drug for brain injury also helps stop compulsive shopping.

"My credit card bills are high. I'm selling my house, I can't afford to keep the house," Kimberly Nicholson said.

"My husband had an alert on his phone for every time I charge or spend money," Silia Bailey said."I would shut down quietly leave and shop for $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 at a time."

Their shopping troubles started after they both suffered serious brain injuries. Bailey fell down her stairs and Nicholson was in a near fatal car accident.

They literally had no control over their shopping.

"I had an obsession for silverware. I probably have seven or eight sets of silverware antique. Five sets of dishes antique," Nicholson said. "I have probably have 10 sets of sheets. I never needed this stuff."

"Shoes and pocketbooks. And if it was something even for school, for the entire school, I'll buy without even blinking an eye," Silia said.

Neurologist Dr. Jonathan Fellus first made the connection between the women's brain injuries and their compulsive shopping.

"The circuits controlling your impulse, your desire, your will, your restraint, your inability to inhibit what's right and wrong. Those circuits in the brain are damaged or disconnected or misfiring," Dr. Fellus with Advanced Neurocare said.

So Dr. Fellus tried a drug called Nuedexta, which had been recently approved to treat uncontrollable laughing or crying after a brain injury.

The results, the patients said, were nothing short of amazing.

"I just spent two months in Italy and without even realizing it, I never went into a store the two months," Nicholson said

" I'm not going to buy steak for the next year; I'm going to buy steak for two days or chicken or whatever it might be," said Bailey.

As Gomez explained, this was more than a financial issue. Nuedexta gave these women control and gave them their lives back.

The big question is will this drug work for compulsive shoppers who haven't suffered a brain injury. The drug hasn't been studied that way.

But, Gomez noted, this is a step in understanding the brain mechanisms that lead to a variety of compulsive disorders.

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