Living with kleptomania can be challenging. Here are 6 steps you can take to help maintain your recovery.

Kleptomania is an impulse control disorder. People living with this condition may find it challenging to seek treatment because of the stigma associated with kleptomania. While individuals with kleptomania are often unfairly labeled as thieves, stealing and having kleptomania involve different motivations.

Stealing is a deviant and criminal act planned and carried out with the intention of material or financial gain. Kleptomania is an impulsive behavior that happens when someone feels a rising physical tension that can only be released when they take something that doesn’t belong to them. After taking an item, someone with kleptomania usually experiences a sense of relief and pleasure. Those with kleptomania may take items from stores or objects from friends or family members.

Steps to Overcoming Kleptomania

A diagnosis of kleptomania can only come from a mental health professional. Once someone is diagnosed with kleptomania, the best option for getting help is to go through professional treatment. Treatment for kleptomania typically involves psychotherapy methods, like cognitive behavioral therapy and aversion therapy. Some treatment providers may also use medications for treatment, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, there are currently no medications available for kleptomania that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If you live with kleptomania, there are steps you can take during treatment to cope with your symptoms effectively and set the stage for long-term recovery:

1. Follow The Treatment Plan

Treatment plans are typically designed to facilitate your recovery, so it’s crucial to attend therapy as scheduled and take medications if they’re part of your treatment plan.

2. Educate Yourself

When you’re diagnosed with kleptomania, it can be helpful to learn more about what kleptomania is so that it’s easier to recognize risk factors, coping strategies and triggers.

3. Identify Triggers

If you can identify a scenario that triggers your kleptomania, you can start to use coping mechanisms to manage your symptoms. When you realize what type of situations trigger the urge to take objects, you can avoid or prevent yourself from being in them.

4. Get Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders like drug addictionanxiety and depression need to be treated at the same time you’re undergoing treatment for kleptomania. If only one condition is addressed at a time, another disorder may interfere with treatment and hinder progress.

5. Learn Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and tai chi can help you manage urges and symptoms of kleptomania. Having a hobby or redirecting your focus into an activity can help you channel your urges into healthier alternatives.

6. Stay Focused On The Goal

Recovery from kleptomania, like most disorders, takes time, but it’s important to remain focused on the goal of recovery. Setting small goals during recovery and keeping track of your progress can help you stay motivated throughout your recovery.  

How to Talk to Someone About Kleptomania Urges

When talking to someone about their kleptomania, remember that kleptomania is a mental health disorder. Try to be as sensitive and understanding as you can. Sometimes, simply listening to them talk about their experiences is the best thing you can do.

While being understanding of the symptoms that someone with kleptomania may experience is essential, it’s also crucial that you put their actions into perspective. If they act on their urges in public, they can be arrested and face costly legal trouble for stealing.

If the person you know with kleptomania has already gone through treatment, you can encourage them to join a support group or group therapy to reinforce what they learned in treatment.

It’s important to help someone with kleptomania build trust with you and other people. You can help them by encouraging them to follow through with commitments. You can also provide support for a friend with kleptomania by learning more about the disorder and suggesting a hobby like painting or exercising. These activities can help someone have a healthy outlet for their urges.

The most important way to help someone with kleptomania is to encourage them to seek treatment if necessary. If you or a loved one lives with co-occurring kleptomania and addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Reach out to a representative today to take the first step toward comprehensive co-occurring treatment.

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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Kleptomania.”, (n.d.) Accessed March 26, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.