Eating Disorders and Shoplifting

Eating Disorders and Shoplifting

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Shoplifting and eating disorders have a commonality in impulsivity and obsessive thoughts. Some who suffer from bulimia or compulsive eating also struggle with shoplifting. As with a food addiction, there is a habit of hoarding food or objects, a rush of adrenaline associated with taking items not paid for, and the depression, embarrassment and shame that follows. Bulimic shoppers usually steal items associated with their eating disorder, such as food, money, over-the-counter diet pills, laxatives or diuretics. But just like eating disorders, the premeditation, act of and withdrawal from stealing becomes compulsive and self-destructive.

Those suffering from eating disorders do so privately. They are both ashamed of and driven by their compulsive thoughts. As compulsive eating and bulimia advance, the individual sometimes suffers financially and the embarrassment of buying significant amounts of food – often unhealthy – is overwhelming. Some resort to shoplifting both out of financial need but some too due to feelings of shame around buying the food or other items they seek. Either way, the psychological draw of shoplifting becomes a seductive and necessary part of their eating disorder.

There is hope for the individual suffering from an eating disorders but treatment is essential for recovery. Those who suffer do so alone, but recovery requires intervention through medical and psychological therapies. Shoplifting is addressed as part of the therapeutic process.