shoplifting addiction

Shoplifting addiction is on the rise in the UK with record numbers of people seeking therapy to stop and understand why they steal. The British Retail Consortium reports that British retailers alone lost £1.8 billion through shoplifting in just one year. Customer thefts having doubled to a staggering 16.7 million incidents a year which is up from 8 million in the previous year.

Shoplifting addiction from a psychological standpoint is an interesting addiction as often the shoplifter can easily afford the items they steal. Just how and why people turn to shoplifting is often buried in complex issues, some of which may be causing the individual a variety of unresolved and painful mixed emotions. We all know that retail shopping can induce a feeling of euphoria, hence its nickname ‘shopping therapy’ in which the shopper experiences happiness and pleasure from buying an item whether it be online or on the high street. However, for the shopaholic the initial feelings of euphoria are often quickly replaced by feelings of sadness, guilt, depression and remorse.

The reasons that propel some people to shoplift may well be rooted in complex issues, such as being able in its process to take control of their activities, whilst seemingly out of control of other events in their life. From case histories there is ample evidence to also support that a bout of shoplifting from a person previously avert to shoplifting can be triggered by some form of a significant life trauma such as a loss, betrayal, divorce or some other difficult situation the individual has found themselves trying to reconcile or deal with emotionally.

Many will experience a rush of excitement similar to the effects of other addictions caused by the release of the chemical dopamine in our brain, a transmitter that causes pleasurable feelings, which left unchecked will propel the person to seek out the pleasurable emotions by continuing to indulge in their shoplifting and repeat its cycle.

Some common signs that may be indicative if someone has a shoplifting addiction are: -

  • A sudden sense of uncontrollable urgency to steal something while out shopping.
  • A feeling of heightened tension or pleasurable arousal leading up to the act of stealing something.
  • Experiencing feelings of relief, pleasure or gratification whilst actually in the process of stealing.
  • After stealing feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions such as guilt, remorse, shame and self-loathing.

Here at Addictions Away, we help you to explore and identify the reasons behind your shoplifting addiction and understand more clearly your emotional dependency on it to cope with life’s ups and downs. This will allow us to deliver the most appropriate form of therapy tailored to your unique circumstances.  Throughout your entire journey on the road to recovery our fully qualified and registered therapist will work closely alongside you, thus ensuring the best possible outcome. We offer confidential on-line and in person therapy services regulated by The British Standards Authority, provided at one of our therapy suites located throughout North Wales and Cheshire.

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