(Sharon Henry/Orange County Register/MCT)

My name is Karen, and I am an Amazon addict.

It started innocently enough. I bought the occasional book from Amazon, just the hard to find editions, of course, because I wouldn't want to put a local bookstore out of business.

Then I realized how easy it was to ship a Christmas present to relatives back East or a birthday gift for a kiddie party we had to miss. And then there was that darling lady bug raincoat, rain boots and umbrella set for my little girl.

But everything changed after the fish oil kerfuffle. Giving your toddler fish oil supplements is a must these days if you hang out in mommy and me circles, which I do. Of course, you have to get the good stuff that's cold-pressed from wild anchovies from far off Nordic waters that costs a bundle. For her part, my daughter insists on the yummy tangerine gummy brand. So I used to schlep back and forth from the health food store to buy the shiny orange treats at a ridiculously high price.

Until the time I was clicking around the computer late at night as I sometimes do, doing the obligatory Twitter and Facebook rounds, when I hopped over to my Amazon cart. There it was, the very same bottle of vitamins I buy for about 60 percent less. Since I fancy myself a bit of a bargainista, this was quite galling. I believe in supporting local shops, but this was unacceptable from a fiscal perspective.

I put that bottle of discounted gummies in my cart and cemented my online spending downfall forever.

After that I price-checked everything I could think of on Amazon (argan oil serum? organic fertilizer? unscented wipes?) and learned that scads of things are cheaper if you get them mailed to you than if you waste time running all over town to purchase them in person.

Only after several appallingly steep credit card statements did I realize that it was indeed far tooooo easy to shop on Amazon. Dangerously easy. Habit-formingly easy.

A glass of wine, 10 minutes at the keyboard and the dastardly one-click button can set you back a bundle before you fully realize what you are doing. It's so insanely convenient that it feels like it may not be a real purchase and you may not have to pay with actual money. I know that sounds a tad far-fetched coming from a woman who dutifully redeems rewards points and clips coupons and buys paper towel packages the size of Lake Michigan from Costco just to save a few pennies, but there you have it. Transactions conducted online just don't register like brick-and-mortar sales

The fact that you have to spend $25 to score the free shipping deal doesn't help matters. You just keep putting things in your cart to make sure you make the quota until you have spent far more than you would have if you had just paid for mailing.

Things really started to get out of hand when I got the Amazon app. If you're a time-poor working mom who can never find enough hours in the day, this kind of seamless multitasking is extremely hard to resist. Shopping while waiting in the dentist's office or standing in line at the DMV feels like time efficiency, at first, but it's also a sneaky way to drain your wallet.

It's all too easy to go from necessary purchases (training pants) to more extraneous fare (statement necklace, anyone?) without feeling the pinch.

In fact, it's so fast and furious that half the time, I can't quite remember what it is I bought when I see the little brown package sitting by the front door. My daughter is under the impression that the UPS man simply brings us a lot of gifts.

If only.

The gravity of my situation truly hit home when I saw the "South Park" episode about Amazon addiction. You know you are in trouble when you are being mocked by animated characters. Ouch.

Do they make a patch for this?

Now, sadder but wiser about the seduction of online shopping, I am removing the one-click button from my cart. That way every time I think I want to buy something completely useless, I will have to go through the hassle of pulling out my credit card and typing in the number. Hopefully, that will be long enough for me to realize it's something I don't really want, let alone need.

Contact Karen D'Souza at 408-271-3772. Read her at www.mercurynews.com/karen-dsouza and follow her at www.twitter.com/KarenDSouza4.