Understand Why Stealing Things is Apart of Alcoholism

Theft WarningHave you had an alcoholic stealing things from you? Perhaps there’s more going on here than what you know about. I am not trying to make anyone think the worst. In situations where a problem drinker begins to turn to stealing, there may be some other substance abuse involved that you aren’t aware of.

It’s possible to get rid of the anger you are feeling, but you will have to forgive them for the recent instance, confront the situation and set boundaries with them. If they have stolen something from you, you may have to accept the possibility of it being gone forever.

alcoholic breaking into carLike lying, stealing is just another character defect that many alcoholics struggle with. It’s not that they are bad people. What happens is once they get a few drinks in them, the sky is really the limit for what they may do. Afterward, they personally have to deal with the shame and guilt that are associated with the act of theft they committed. That’s easy enough to understand.

What should you do with an alcoholic family member or friend who continues to rip you off?

One of the main things that you must learn is that you do not have to accept unacceptable behavior. This applies to getting ripped off. I would definitely say that steeling is unacceptable behavior, wouldn’t you?

If you noticed that something is missing and are certain that the alcoholic stole it, then you’re going to have to talk to them about it. Don’t expect them to own up to the theft though. After all, they are living in a world of denial. Set your boundary by letting them know if it happens again that they have to either move out of the house or they will be fired, whichever applies to your situation. If they are just an occasional visitor in your home, it may be necessary to not allow them to come over anymore.

Coping with an alcoholic
who is stealing can be like night and day as far as their personality is concerned. That’s what is so baffling about alcoholism; it will take the most honest person and turn them into a lying thief. One of the biggest problems we have is we hold onto the person they used to be in hopes that they will return. This type of false reality gets us into trouble. If they are stealing from you, confront the matter and set some boundaries before you end up missing something extremely valuable, perhaps you already are.

One of the steps the AA program teaches is that once you have made a list of all the persons who you have harmed, you should become willing to make amends to them all. The next steps says that you make the amend wherever possible as long as it will not injure someone when this is done.

Many of the alcoholics that I have interacted with within the Alcoholics Anonymous program have admitted to stealing from friends, family members and employees.

Having been involved in the Al-anon program for several years, I have also heard many of the family members of alcoholics express how they are trying to cope with their loved one who is ripping them off all the time. In some situations the active alcoholic/addict is booted out of the house because so many things are disappearing. It’s tough love.

Dealing with a problem drinker
who steals is tough. When they are in the inebriated state, all they are thinking about is what they can buy with the things they are stealing. If it makes you feel any better, no one in their right mind would steal from a friend or relative.

14 comments to Understand Why Stealing Things is Apart of Alcoholism


    WOW this sure makes since!!!!!!! My babies daddy is a hard core alcoholic, HE STOLE my Rent money order from me this December 9th, We have him on video surveillance and A photo copy of the money order is on the way. he took from “our home” my childrens money for the rent.
    I would have NEVER given it to him. No matter what excuses he comes up with. End up taking a chance Putting me and the kids out in the cold.
    Now he has to deal with where HE is living at, And knowing I know and understand what is going on. Im sure he is trying to come up with MORE lies then Ever before to cover it all up. IDK if i am pressing charges. He wont be allowed back in My life with Our son again. he is 51 years old, And Will Never change at this point. I guess I have just turned him over to his own sickness that he has with this disease of being an alcoholic.
    Well Merry Christmas,
    Melissa & Kids

  • Recovering

    Well, I am a recovering alcoholic myself. I am so frustrated with my husband’s recently (past 8 months – a year) developed habit of stealing when he can’t get money any other way.

    Because what we have is considered “marital property” (I already checked with the local police dept.) I can’t call it stealing. Now the check from a non-joint account with him forging my signature is fair game… all property, including my recently pawned wedding and engagement rings, are not considered theft.

    I am particularly frustrated that when I drank (for 20+ years) I never stole property or money from anyone to get $ to drink or pay any other debt. Even though I understand the addiction and the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, I am having a tough time wrapping my head around the thieving behavior.

  • admin

    Thanks for posting. Knowing what it’s like being addicted and dealing with someone who’s addicted are two totally different things that cause frustration in different ways.

    In both instances, I had to start with the very first step, realizing I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable.

    It’s wise to set boundaries and to protect yourself in as many ways as possible. Change locks on the doors, cancel credit card accounts, close bank accounts and freeze everything that has both of your names on it.

    When you are dealing with someone “suffering” from the disease try to remember this.

    The three C’s
    1) I did not cause the alcoholism
    2) I cannot cure the alcoholic
    3) I cannot control the alcoholic

  • Linette

    what about the alcoholic who forges checks from her employers when she is sober and always has money to buy her liquor from her boyfriend who is always helping her out and gives her money. Should we confront her on it and make her accountable for her actions or just keep letting her get away with it? We as her friends feel guilty for being upset and she cries and tell us she is sorry but we are getting tired of her lies when she is sober and not drinking at least we think she is sober. I know she lies when either way and steals and makes us feel guilty for being upset. We have cut our ties with her after years she is 59 and never follow through with help that we have all agreed to support her on and even go with her to. How do we deal with our feelings of hurt and mistrust and guilt?

  • Debbie

    I was go glad to find this article in my search for alcoholics and stealing. I now understand that it can go hand in hand. My daughter is an alcoholic who we kicked out of the house at 4 a.m. one morning a few months ago. We took over custody of her 5 year old son. She has stolen jewelry, money, etc from us, her parents as well as her sisters and brother. She was staying with a friend and his parents until this weekend. They called to tell me my daughter had stolen 2 rings and countless bottles of wine (which they found empty and hidden around their house). She pawned one ring along with other jewelry and the other was found in my daughter’s purse after they did a search. It is so sad and heartbreaking to think she could do this to people who had taken her in when she needed a place. I confronted her about it and she just lied and seemed to have no remorse what so ever. She hates us. Tell me I am no longer her mother even after all I have done for her and her son. I have felt so guilty because she tells me it’s all my fault. That I made her feel like she was hated and she only drank because of me and the pressure I put her under to take care of her child. So very hard to understand it all.
    Thanks for listening – all the best to you.

  • Michelle Schoemer

    …my brother who has suffered from alcoholism since his early twenties – he is 45 now; I find has stolen gold jewelry from me. They were 3 sentimental pieces. My class ring, a gold chain with a vintage gold cross with garnets that matched the style of a garnet ring that my grandmother gave me and a Mason ring from my daughters great grandfather, on her fathers side. It was a sad day when I made the realization that it was him who took the jewelry and the relization that it was more than one piece! It hit me all at once and I remember exactly when it happened. He was visiting from WI – he was over at my apartment and he went to the bathroom and he was gone for a while and I went to go see what he was doing and I found him in my bedroom. I thought nothing of it. But now I know. He has stolen from my parents too. ~~~ He also goes into peoples homes when he is drunk. I thougt that these were drunken social visits, but I now relize that he is probably looking for jewelry to steal. I fear that he will walk into a home of a fearful pistol owner. ~~~ Its hard to have a love one use you as a means to an end or a tool to buy booze or god knows what ever addiction he is feeding. ~~~ Tough love is hard, but now I know that I would never have him in my home. It’s a stiff cup of coffee to drink, knowing that your loved one/addict would sell you for a fifth of cheap vodka; so knowing this, its important to protect and take care of yourself.

  • ” after receiving a strange letter in the mail that claimed I had “won” 2 “free” round trip tickets worth up to $1400 to any place in the continental United States. One such product that Motorola recently launched the Motorola Android tablet. There exists also the alternative of two keyboards, a digital QWERTY keyboard and wi-fi keyboard.

  • Deb

    Where can I find info if I am the alcoholic?

  • Leslie

    My sister moved in with my mother and I two years ago. She has been stealing from me for most of that time.

    She has a job that pays her $18.00/hr (she only works for four hours a day), but still, she pays no rent, and for no food or utilities here. Her only expenses are her alcohol, cigarettes, and the gas for her car. The reason my sister steals is because she wants what I have- My sobriety.

    I’ve been sober now for eight years. My sister has been drinking most of her life. I actually didn’t know just how much until I spoke with her ex-boyfriends and her ex-husband. She hides it well. After she works her fours in the morning, she starts in (drinking) and is usually in bed by 2:00 PM. She sleeps all day, until her favorite night-time television show is on, eats, goes back to bed, and does the whole thing all over again the next day. I don’t know how she fits it in, but she can steal anything in a heartbeat

    I have a padlock on my bedroom door because my sister was too good at stealing locks and keys. What is amazing to me is how she would put the keys back in my purse every time, denying everything and trying to make me out to be some type of lunatic.

    Sadly, my mother sides with her because she’s basically sick with this disease and doesn’t want to “upset her.” My father was an alcoholic (and died from the disease, my brother is an alcoholic and by the grace of God, I’m an alcoholic who has just celebrated eight years of SOBRIETY! 🙂

    Now, as you can see, my mother is an enabler, and was with all of us. She also doesn’t believe that she is. My sister is jealous of my sobriety. She can try all she wants, but she can’t steal my sobriety from me. She has to want it and to work at. She doesn’t believe in AA or sponsors, so the AA program is out for her.

    What this situation has taught me is that my sister’s continuous stealing of items is not about the items at all. It’s about what she really wants- her own sobriety. It’s there for the taking, Sis. You just have to work at it.

  • Thank you so much for your posts. I am dealing with this situation right now. I knew my boyfriend was a recovering alcoholic who attended AA regularly. I admit that I did not understand the disease. I listened to the details about how he was sober for many years, and attended AA meetings with him. . Even when I went to visit him out of state and he borrowed my car and left me stranded I made excuses for what happened and continued the relationship because he was after all my childhood crush. Fast forward to now, I let him move in with me and he has stolen money, and other valuable items from my home. I called the police even though he insists that this time he didn’t do it. It must have been a burglar. I am going to the court house to file an eviction notice to get him out of my home because he refuses to leave. I have attended Alanon for a few months now to learn how to cope with this. Your comments have helped me affirm that I am doing the right thing.

  • yo mama

    I’m so sick of pussy-footing around with a drunk, and we’re all supposed to be so understanding. After 15 years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars misused… STINKING, USELESS DRUNKS!!!!

  • Nancy

    I agree alcoholics are useless and toxic and selfish. Thank god John died 18 years ago after destroying my life and our children’s. Death was the only way to get rid of him and I thank god he developed liver disease and lost his life- it was the only way we would ever have peace. He stole everything even his children’s savings bond and their piggy banks. May he rot in hell for the evil that he inflicted on us- useless and malicious alcoholic and drug addict. And I blame myself for being so naive and believing his lies until I was in to deep.
    Alcoholism and drugs were a choice he made and I have no compassion or understanding for his behavior. A diabetic treats his disease there was no reason alcoholics don’t do the same except they are evil and selfish

    Rot in hell you bastardi

  • Jesus Hernandez Jr

    I just caught my dad stealing. I confronted him. After reflecting his action he did own up to the stealing. I do not like the behavior but feel it is beyond his control. Furthermore, being that he is 70 years,I doubt he will change. That is unless a major health issue arises and he pulls through and even then I have my doubts. It saddens me to see him in this state. He worked in a school district for 20 years and after retiring I saw his sense of purpose disappear. Still, I do not condone his choice. Because in reality it is a life choice. May GOD be with all that believe in a higher power. I am just wanting peace at this point in my life.

  • Karen Lorentzson

    May God bless all the people dealing with AN ALCOHOLIC / or drug addict. All addictions often go hand in hand and in my opinion can be a type of possession. Having been clean and sober for 15 years I can honestly say most of these sad and lonely people can not be helped. There is a terrific need for social services that do more than currently simply lock them up in a mental institution and act as glorified babysitters. Sadly even these places are few and far between and love the alcoholics/ addicts cycles which is their paycheck! Once the addicts financial and healthcare is exhausted they are thrown aside usually to the streets. where the cycle starts all over and only the mental health agency prospers having employees often making over 6 figures a year! I believe only God can change people but unfortunately the brain damage of addicts is often severe and they no longer can feel but depend on manipulation, lying, stealing and demanding!Please contact your representatives locally n capital hill and demand more funds for treatment facilities. Thank you!

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