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Kleptomania Treatments

(Also Known As: Kleptomaniac Treatments, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatments, Shoplifting Treatments, Stealing Treatments, Borderline Personality Treatments)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Kinds of Kleptomania Treatments are Available?

The treatments for kleptomania typically consist of pharmacological and psychotherapy approach.

Pharmacological Treatment

The choice of medication for the treatment of kleptomania will basically depend on the overall condition of the patient, such as the occurrence of co morbid disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Oftentimes kleptomaniacs can benefit from the use of a combination of drugs prescribed by mental health professionals. The groups of drugs commonly prescribed for kleptomania include:

  1. Mood stabilizers
    • These are medications that can pacify the moods of the patient that prevents mood factors from triggering the urge to steal.
    • A helpful drug in this group is lithium such as Eskalith and Lithobid.
  2. Antidepressants
    • The choice of drug used to treat kleptomania under this category is selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
    • Drugs of this group that are effective with kleptomania include paroxetine, flouxetine and fluvoxamine.
  3. Anti-seizure medications
    • This group of drugs is primarily for seizure treatment; however, it also has been proven to be beneficial in treating some mental health disorders such as kleptomania.
    • Drugs such as topiramate and valproic acid are found to be beneficial for kleptomaniacs.
  4. Benzodiazepines
    • This group of drugs is also known as tranquilizers. Its use should be closely monitored since it can encourage physical or mental dependence if taken for a long period of time.
    • Clonazepam and alprazolam
  5. Addiction medications
    • The specific drug of this group is the only open trial medication for kleptomania, Naltrexone, which showed significant reduction on the intensity of the urge to steal, the stealing behavior, and the stealing thoughts. 6
    • Naltrexone is responsible for blocking the brain from the pleasurable feelings that come with some addictive behaviors that can reduce the urges and pleasures that are associated with stealing.

Psychotherapy Treatment

The main choice for kleptomania psychological treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of treatment approach helps one identify their unhealthy behaviors and negative beliefs and teaches them to replace it with healthier ones. Cognitive behavioral therapy consists of the following treatment approaches that help one overcome their kleptomania urges:

  • Aversion therapy (practicing mild painful techniques such as holding their breath to the point of discomfort once there is an urge to steal.)
  • Covert sensitization (one pictures them self stealing and seeing the negative consequences of their action)
  • Systematic desensitization (relaxation techniques are practiced including picturing oneself being able to control their urges to steal.)

Other forms of psychotherapy treatment include family therapy, marriage counseling, and psychodynamic therapy.

Others

Self-help groups are an important adjunct treatment for kleptomania, since many kleptomaniacs have benefited from participating in various self help groups that are based on 12-step programs. Even if there are no self-help groups that you can find that is specific to kleptomania, attending addiction meetings can also provide good support among kleptomaniacs.

Treatment Options for Kleptomaniac Children

Kleptomania can be a disturbing disorder, especially in children whose debilitating psychological condition can lead them to trouble for doing acts that are criminal offenses, grounds for which the society can condemn them as criminals. Finding immediate treatment for kleptomania in children is a major concern among parents whose parental guidance is very significant in guiding kleptomaniac children deal with their psychological condition.

The administration of antidepressant medications are often the first treatment option for children with kleptomania. This is to control the impulsivity as well as the mental distress associated with trying to control the impulse to steal. Other than the pharmacological intervention, children can also best benefit from a behavioral therapy program that uses the consequences of stealing as part of the treatment approach. An example of consequences used in behavioral therapy are simple measures of withdrawing privileges and in extreme cases exposing the child to arrest and detention from a juvenile facility. 7 The best outcome is obtained using the combination treatment of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy when treating children with kleptomania.

Could You Have Kleptomania?

Kleptomania Topics

Related Conditions

Borderline Personality Disorder – Variable Moods, Split Personalities, Unstable Personality, Disturbed Sense of Self
Bulimia Nervosa – Anorexia, Binge Eating, Purging, Stress, Depression, Excessive Eating
Impulse Control Disorder – Pyromania, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Compulsion, Uncontrolled Impulse, Kleptomania
Intermittent Explosive Disorder – Uncontrolled Rage, Disruptive Behavior, Mood Disorder, Compulsive, Impulsive Disorder
Pyromania – Starting of Fire to Relieve Tension, Impulsive, Compulsive Behavior