Recognizing kleptomania as more than just a trivial character flaw usually comes when the shoplifter is caught, either in the act or with a hoard. A hoard is the stolen property that is kept, not for use, but guiltily concealed to cover up the activity. Serial arrests on minor shoplifting charges can be evidence of a deeper problem.
Treatment begins with admitting the problem
The nature of shoplifting is to be secretive. By the time a loved one becomes concerned, the addiction is usually obvious to the sufferer. But for treatment to be successful, they have to be able to admit they need help.
Once this important step has been taken, recovery can start.
There are 12-step programs available but can be difficult to find. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention is a good resource and poses 10 questions for self evaluation:
- Do you ever shoplift to help yourself feel better?
- Do you ever look forward to the next time you can get to the stores to shoplift again?
- Do you find shoplifting sometimes relieves some of the stress and pressure in your life?
- Do you sometimes wake up in the morning thinking about the next time you will shoplift?
- Do you sometimes feel guilty, ashamed or remorseful after you shoplift?
- Do you sometimes feel that shoplifting is like your best friend?
- Do you promise yourself to stop shoplifting and don’t?
- Do you plan your life so that shoplifting can fit into your schedule?
- Do you continue to shoplift despite knowing that it is negatively affecting your life?
- Do you sometimes feel that shoplifting is an addiction for you?
Unfortunately, online forums that discuss shoplifting issues are sometimes focused not on overcoming the disease, but on techniques for more effective shoplifting.
Because kleptomania is considered an official diagnosis, treatment by a psychiatrist or psychologist is easier to obtain than for other non-drug addictions. Treatment will consist of counseling/talk therapy and may include medications found helpful in the condition. Some of the medications prescribed for kleptomania include:
- Antidepressants – Usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
- Mood stabilizers – Used in bipolar disorders and mania.
- Benzodiazepines – anti-anxiety drugs.
- Anti-seizure medications – some have found use in treating compulsive disorders.
- Anti-addiction drugs – these act to block pleasure receptors in the brain and are sometimes used to help fight urges to steal.
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