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Treatment for Kleptomania: How to Help Your Teen

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It might be the smallest item your teen brings home – something they had the means to buy, so you don’t give much thought to this purchase. Nor do you give much thought to the next few items they bring home. As they continually bring home newer items you begin to wonder if you are witnessing the symptoms of kleptomania.

Treatment for Kleptomania

When it comes to your teen the best treatment for kleptomania involves therapy and/or counseling. Behavior modification therapy can possibly help your teenager to pinpoint the exact reasons behind their kleptomania. If identified early treatment for kleptomania can begin to correct the issue.

Family counseling is also helpful. The root of the issue may stem from a problem going on at home. It is important to talk with your teen. If you feel they may be struggling with kleptomania, gently approach the subject. Do not be harsh as your teen might close up since they are already struggling with guilt and fear of being caught.

Let them know that they are not alone in this and that there is kleptomania treatment. Centers like Newport Academy specialize in helping teenagers and their family address addictions and disorders such as kleptomania. Here at Newport Academy, our highly trained, caring staff can provide you with the knowledge and tools your family needs to beat kleptomania. Give us a call today to discover how we can help with treatment for kleptomania. You and your teen do not have to handle this alone.

Medication may be used in treatment for kleptomania. treat. Some antidepressant medications known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, aka SSRIs, are potentially useful in assisting with repressing certain strong urges.

There are medications currently being studied for those who display symptoms of kleptomania.

Teens and Kleptomania

Teens may steal items from stores, not out of necessity, but rather out of a compulsion to steal. Oftentimes, the teen has the ability to buy this stolen item, but for the exhilaration of the theft, they will steal it instead. This addiction to stealing is known as kleptomania. This is by no means limited to only “troubled” teens. Often, the teenager who does all their homework and is the teacher’s pet can be the one indulging in this behavior.

It is often difficult to determine the precise reason a teen steals, but there are several factors that generally play into kleptomania in children. Some teens steal as a form of rebellion, for example. A teen might feel so overwhelmed by being the “good student/child” that they feel they need to get in trouble to fit in with everyone else. It should be noted that unlike kleptomania shoplifting addiction is rooted more in the rush of stealing. They both have a impulse control relation however kleptomania is less about the “high” one can gain from stealing.

Kleptomania typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. It seems to be more prevalent among women. Shoplifting teen behavior is often a result of peer pressure. Teens will be dared or coaxed into swiping items of no significance, once again, to feel that sense of belonging. Due to the developing teen brain, logic faculties aren’t fully in place. The teen brain is also more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior, making teens more likely to participate in unwise activities. Instead of carefully thinking out their actions, teens often respond impulsively. Kleptomania is often considered as being rooted in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Due to the fact it is impulse action and based in excessive undesired rituals of OCD. There are individuals with symptoms of kleptomania who also demonstrate hoarding symptoms that are reminiscent of ones associated with OCD.

Substance abuse might also be a link to kleptomania. Due to the fact that alcohol can increase inhibitions a teen who is drinking would be more likely to shoplift. Additionally, abuse of drugs such as marijuana and other substances that impair judgement might be linked to kleptomania in children.

Whatever the reason may be, many teens get a taste for it after the first time – and they’ll continue with the behavior. Some believe that not being caught the first time equals never being caught.  Others, the ones wanting to rebel, may be angry they didn’t get caught so they try again.

Newport Academy Substance Abuse Resources: treatment for kleptomania

What Is Kleptomania?

Kleptomania’s etymology has Greek roots. Coming from the words κλέπτω (klepto) “to steal” and μανία (mania) “mad desire, compulsion”. The rough translation is “compulsive stealing” or compulsion to steal”. Kleptomania is a real disorder that is generally prevalent in more females than males and often begins during the teenage years. While not fully conclusive, a report from Discovery Fit & Health states that those suffering from this illness may have relatives with substance abuse problems or other mental health issues.

Most teens do not go into the store planning to steal anything. This is what differentiates kleptomania from theft – theft is planned and deliberate and kleptomania is not. Once inside the store, though, the teen can grow tense either from the prospect of stealing or the thought of being caught. The only way to relieve this tension is by stealing. The act itself brings about a great amount of grief, guilt and sadness. Many feel they are trapped within this cycle, believing they’ll never do it again, only to find themselves continually doing it.

It is believed that kleptomania may be an offshoot from other psychological battles such as:

  • Impulse control disorder
  • Severe depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Social phobia
  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Substance abuse
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Symptoms of Kleptomania

Treatment for kleptomania starts with first identifying the symptoms. While kleptomania is difficult to pinpoint, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has listed five symptoms to look for that might signal a problem with this addiction to stealing:

  • Stealing items which are not needed by the teen
  • Feelings of anxiety or tension while shopping
  • A feeling of relief once they have stolen
  • The theft isn’t committed out of feelings of anger or delusion

Kleptomania isn’t easily diagnosed due to the fact that many of those suffering from it do not seek out help, for fear of punishment or embarrassment. Kleptomania is also rooted in secrecy and deception.

Newport Academy Substance Abuse Resources: treatment for kleptomania

Negative Impact of Kleptomania

According to statistics from the Association of Shoplifting Statistics roughly 1 in 11 people, or  27 million shoplifters in our nation today are shoplifters. Over 10 million people were caught shoplifting in the last five years. There is no specific type of stores that has a higher chance of being targeted by someone with kleptomania. Targets can be grocery stores, thrift shops, drug stores etc. It is more about the convenience. The downside to this illness is obvious. A teen who is caught stealing may be arrested, be faced with criminal charges, receive a criminal record, or they could be banned from that particular store.

Naturally, this could one day affect their job search or possibly, college admissions and future personal relationships. The teen also faces inner turmoil as emotions of guilt, regret, helplessness or loneliness battle against their mind.