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Help Lines and Support Groups Available for Shoplifters and Gamblers

The Kim Foundation believes in promoting opportunities for more meaningful mental health care for everyone. Promoting local programs that create hope for recovery and help in developing the tools and skills needed for change has become part of our vision. Understanding that many people struggle to change harmful behaviors, we’d like to recognize two fairly new programs addressing compulsive behaviors.

The Kim Foundation has previously showcased projects for those who compulsively over-eat, compulsively shop for unnecessary items, or compulsively hoard items that are serving no useful purpose in their homes. Recently, two respected colleagues shared we me new opportunities that are designed to heal and change those who compulsively shoplift and compulsively gamble. 

Jeri Schaben, with the Douglas County Community Mental Health Center told us that there are approximately 7,000 shoplifting arrests per year in Douglas County. That’s about one in every 11 people living in the county! Most are law abiding citizens, except for this addiction, and most want to quit, but can’t!  Shoplifters report that they steal 48 times for every one time they are caught.

Jeri also shared that there is a new self-help group in Omaha — Compulsive Shoplifters Anonymous. Its goal is to help individuals who want and need assistance to stop their addiction. 

Sidney Kauzlarich, M.D., the Medical Director at Douglas County Community Mental Health Center is encouraging individuals to participate. Dr. Kauzlarich stated, “Recovery groups for compulsive shoplifters can be extremely effective in curbing or stopping the behavior. The groups provide support in identifying basic issues that cause the compulsive behavior.” Studies find that those who attend Compulsive Shoplifters Anonymous meetings for more than one year virtually stop their behavior.  

Congratulations to members of Omaha’s Compulsive Shoplifters Anonymous (CSA), for recognizing their addiction, and taking that first positive action toward stopping.  CSA meets every Thursday from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Bergan Mercy Medical Center in the downstairs conference room. For information, contact Jeri Schaben at Douglas County Community Mental Health Center – 402-444-5200.

Another friend, Beth Hansen, MS, LMHP, CCGC, with One World Community Health Center in Omaha, reminded us about the help lines available for those with compulsive gambling behaviors, 1-800-522-4700 from the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling, and 1-800-Bets-Off, which is the Iowa gambling treatment program.

Beth reports that often times, those addicted will call the toll free number, but lose heart and disconnect the call when a counselor answers. Some people will call several times before they actually develop the confidence to talk with someone. This includes friends or family members who will call, then feeling shame or frustration, and will also simply hang up the telephone. When they do build up the confidence to talk, callers are usually pleased with the kindness and the information that trained counselors are able to provide.

People who have stolen money from loved ones or business associates in order to perpetuate their compulsion, people who have lost jobs and families because of their habit, and people facing incarceration because of the financial damage they have caused, can all find some degree of help from addressing their addiction with a trained professional or contacting one of the help lines listed above. Gamblers deserve the opportunity to begin life again without the addiction that has cost them so dearly.   

This season of the year is about repentance, about spiritual discipline, and a recommitment to self improvement; every day becomes a good time of year to help any person with an addiction who is looking for a new beginning.