Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although it may be very difficult to overcome kleptomania on your own, you can take steps to care for yourself with healthy coping skills while getting professional treatment:

  • Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed and attend scheduled therapy sessions. Remember that it can be hard work and that you may have occasional setbacks.
  • Educate yourself. Learn about kleptomania so that you can better understand risk factors, treatments and triggering events.
  • Discover what drives you. Identify situations, thoughts and feelings that may trigger urges to steal so that you can take steps to manage them.
  • Get treatment for substance abuse or other mental health problems. Your addictions, depression, anxiety and stress can feed off each other, leading to a cycle of unhealthy behavior.
  • Find healthy outlets. Explore healthy ways to rechannel your urges to steal or shoplift through exercise and recreational activities.
  • Learn relaxation and stress management. Try such stress-reduction techniques as meditation, yoga or tai chi.
  • Stay focused on your goal. Recovery from kleptomania can take time. Keep motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind and reminding yourself that you can work to repair damaged relationships and financial and legal problems.

Support for loved ones

If your loved one is being treated for kleptomania, make sure you understand the details of his or her treatment plan and actively support its success. It may be helpful to attend one or more therapy sessions with your loved one so that you're familiar with the factors that seem to trigger the urge to steal, and the most effective ways to cope.

You may also benefit from talking with a therapist yourself. Recovering from an impulse control disorder is a challenging, long-term undertaking — both for the affected person and those closest to him or her. Make sure you're taking care of your own needs with the stress-reduction outlets that work best for you, such as exercise, meditation or time with friends.

Self-help groups

People with kleptomania may benefit from participating in self-help groups based on 12-step programs. Even if you can't find a group specifically for kleptomania, some research indicates benefits of attending Alcoholics Anonymous or other addiction meetings. Such groups don't suit everyone's tastes, so ask your mental health provider about alternatives.

Oct. 05, 2011

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.