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There are many addictions that people fall into that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. They are called process addictions because they usually are an addiction to an act or behavior. Process addictions are not as well known as drug addiction, and many people actually doubt if they are real. For many people, however, a process addiction causes them to continue to do something they don’t want to do, and in order to get out of the addiction they may need professional help.
One misunderstood process addiction is Compulsive Stealing Addiction. Someone that has a stealing addiction will feel a rush or a high when they shoplift or steal. If they try to avoid stealing, they will have actual cravings or urges to steal. Just like drug addiction, this addiction controls the mind and it becomes all-encompassing.
A Lifestyle of Stealing
Usually, compulsive shoplifters continue with this disorder for years, often until they get caught and the punishment and the shame are so difficult that it makes them want to turn their life around. It might start as a kid, stealing a neighbor’s big wheels. Then it continues as the child becomes a teen, and they continuously steal clothes or merchandise from stores. That child may grow up to continue in their addiction as an adult, until they are caught and locked up so they can’t steal anymore.
Many people with a stealing addiction don’t even need or use the things they steal. Wealthy housewives have been known to steal compulsively, as a way to self-medicate for some bad aspect of their life. For some people, the danger and the thrill is what keeps them coming back, for others, stealing is a sort of stress reliever that they begin to rely on.
A Costly Disorder
An estimated 23 million Americans shoplift, according to the National Association of Shoplifting Prevention. 3 million of them are considered shoplifting addicts. $25 million is lost every day to retail theft, a problem that puts a strain on many stores and causes prices to rise.
Shoplifting addiction is not very well understood, and many people have a hard time admitting that this is an addiction. That’s the problem with process addictions. There is no substance present that makes the body physically dependent on it. It’s just an activity that becomes addicting. Those who steal compulsively are ashamed of what they are doing, but they can’t stop.
Because of the lack of knowledge of stealing addiction, it is hard for those suffering with it to seek help. To admit to the problem means humiliation, and to be viewed as a criminal. It is important to increase understanding of disorders like this one and to encourage anyone with it to get help. Therapy and support groups can be very beneficial, and with the right help, a person with a shoplifting addiction can go on to lead a normal life.