Have you found out a loved one in active addiction has stolen from you? And how did you handle the situation?



We know when our loved ones are struggling with addiction that their brain reward systems are hijacked and their actions can be out of character. This can be really hard to process when it comes to lying and stealing. Have you experienced a loved on stealing from you? And how have you handled that experience? This has come up recently in the community and we’d love to hear from you all on the topic.


My partner has put me in a similar but slightly different situation. I was looking after someone’s home while they travelled and my partner came to stay a few times. During this time they drank their expensive and not so expensive wine on top of other than they bought and hid the empty away which the owners found. Now I’ve been told that there are a few personal items missing that were there when they left. My partner is denying all and throwing all sorts of red flag excuses for this. They have struggled with sobriety, been through programs controlled rehab housing situations and supposed to be going to meetings etc. They are not and they deny drinking when I know. However the missing items takes things to a different level and ultimately I am on the hook and could be charged. I know I cant make them stop drinking. They have been on various anti depressants for years which they self medicate. I’m lost. I’ve tried all ways to be supportive but here I am. 1


I don’t think I would handle that well. And I don’t keep money on me either. No temptation


As far as I know I haven’t been in this situation. Admission of guilt: I actually used to pick up loose bills around the house when he was using - knowing he wouldn’t remember they’d been there.
During his active addiction I was careful to keep accounts separate. Still, watching my husband pour more $ than I’d like into alcohol and cocaine however, can be pretty distressing to me. His money, but still could be spent on what I deem as ‘better’ things.


This a great question. I’ve dealt with this many times and still continue to. My way of dealing with it has always just been flat out asking them. I usually get a lie or a twisted truth most times, they did steal but it was for “groceries” or something. I usually find their hiding spot soon after and confront again and they finally admit to using that money to but heroine. I don’t take stealing lightly, it’s one thing to lie about using but once you start negatively effecting my future and financial situation that is crossing a much larger line. Stealing is also a red flag showing someone is spiralling and needs to be pulled out of it as soon as possible.


Thanks for sharing @polly! It’s probably healthy that we remember that just because we aren’t struggling with using substance/s doesn’t mean we are perfect, either. :wink: Thanks for being honest.


Unfortunately, I have been stolen from so many times. I’ve been to pawn shops buying back my property , transferring money to cover stolen checks, calling and canceling credit card, much more. I’ve been told by my loved ones I could have stopped his addiction much earlier I, if I would have pressed charges. I’m at the point now that I’m willing to do that. He has been to multiple rehabs , halfway house and is on his second MAT program. I allow him to live with me, but there is boundaries. He has wrecked my car , so there is no transportation for him. My Mon and I transport to counseling and meetings. At one point , he would have done anything for his fix. I’ve seen much growth but would love to see more. Hanging in there !!!


I like that while you “don’t take stealing lightly,” you can recognize that in the bigger picture it might actually be a ‘cry for help.’ Thanks for the perspective, @Dean_Acton.


thanks for sharing @Denise sending <3 !


Wishing you strength and patience.


I’ve never personally been in this situation (because when my brother was living at home I was so young that I had nothing but stuffed animals and Barbie’s to steal), but I know how my parents dealt with it. My mom smoked marijuana and my brother would steal from her a lot. In addition he would steal cash and jewelry from my parents to pay for his habit. Initially they called the cops on him, but that was a bit traumatic for all of us. Eventually my mom kept her marijuana at a neighbors house so he didn’t have access, and they bought a safe and pretty much put everything in the house that was valuable in the safe.


Been here and just realized my ex who was gambling stole money from my wallet after months that he did that. I confronted him about it during family counseling. He admitted. Not sure though if there were more things he stole from me. I just thanked him for his honesty when he admitted and looked him straight in his eyes


Thanks for sharing @kl1m! Did it get better after this?


This is a difficult thing. I’m in/out/i really don’t know relationship with a long term alcohol dependant. At first, nearly 3 yrs ago, I was worried for him, had pity. I had twice caught him out attempting to steal from my wallet in my presence. I thought to myself to keep my cards on me and carry no cash. That messed with my emotions and head. I couldn’t keep the barrier gate patrolled all the time. Given time, he stole from me again. …drank purfume…metholated spirits…so then they were hidden…my psychologist said that if I loved him, I would just forgive him and not hide things as that is treating him like a child. I felt his lack of control was damaging all around him. When I have confronted him on stealing cash, anything that has an alcohol content and even my restricted psych meds (I was so frantic that I bought a padlocked toolbox for that and hid it in a cupboard), his response has always been " I am a desperate alcoholic /drunk, what did you expect going out with someone like me, it’s nothing personal, I love you so much." It became so hard to trust or believe what he said. That really messed with my head and emotions. In turn, that angered him. I think also that the anger started when he went on dexamphetamine that was prescribed by a psychiatrist (he lied to Dr. about how much and often he drinks). The last time we were together as a couple with him staying at my place for a couple of days to supposedly dry out (sneaking alcohol and clearly getting drunker), I told him that the boundary that I had put in place earlier this year was being trampled on. That if he was “loose and losing it” (getting drunk and abusive) that he would have to leave. He wanted to argue, plead, etc but I stood my ground. I went to the toilet and had a feeling that I should look in my wallet. The cash was gone. I confronted him about that. The response was a mixed up desperate, No I won’t give you the money back. …drive me the 20 kilometers home. …no, I am not leaving. …taunted me to call the police and then call me a c*** because I have (?) . So I called an AA friend of his to pick him up…He can’t be at my place anymore. My young adult children hate him. They like him sober, but that has become very rare since he got a part time job (money) and dexamphetamine about 9 months ago. I have been trying to keep the relationship scaled back to something I feel safe with but he sees it differently. He talks about our love in past tense because I have withdrawn physical intimacy. I have felt so disrespected that I can’t go there yet but he is trying to guilt and manipulate me to go back to the way he wants it. …it’s hard…you know your partner. I don’t. I hope you find the tools and support here to find the way that works.


Thank you for sharing. Read it all and sending you a virtual hug. You are not alone. Glad you found this place. Eing able to set your foot down is admirable. Really hard to love a crazy person who does not have sincere desire to get well (yet). Let go… thats what i was told also to do abt my gambling addict ex. It is not your life’s purpose to save other people. You deserve to find peace and experience true joy. Take care always. Have faith


@Dani sending <3 this is not easy!

One note on:

my psychologist said that if I loved him, I would just forgive him and not hide things as that is treating him like a child.

The way the CRAFT method works, is to train us, the concerned friends and family, to use behavioral conditioning techniques to influence a loved one’s behaviors and habits in a positive way. In this view - setting the conditions for him not to be able to steal from you is fair enough!

The addicted brain does not reason and rationalize, it is impaired and impulsive and it acts out of character. Then there’s a whole lot of shame they feel about their behavior and this vicious cycle perpetuates the substance use to escape and numb / satisfy the dependence.

I wonder, has your partner been open to getting help in the past? Is that still a potential you see as possible?


Thanks Jane. I don’t want to give up on him. He may come to a weekend meditation retreat with me. Both days or only one, I have left it up to him. His family are aware of what has been happening and his brother has paid the 3 weeks rent that he spent on alcohol. His dad is coming up soon to visit (5 hrs drive away). He sees a therapist weekly. I have struggled whether to hide my things or not. But we have spoken recently and he has acknowledged ( the last 6 months that has been really hard on both of us ) the money and things he has taken and will pay me back (in installments. …lol…gotta laugh…he didn’t take it all at once). I am hoping that with his therapist talking with him more often (she doubled the times she sees him), his family’s love and mine that he can get to a place he is happy to live (within himself ). I will say when conversation in future may be difficult and ask if that’s ok with him first. …usually I would approach such convos with a look of trepidation, so he knew what was coming by my body language, however asking is a great new idea. I am sure it will make him feel more in control, less like a piece of shit and keep our conversations open and respectful. Thanks Jane


Yes. I have learnt that I can’t save him. He sort of wants it. Says so. However I think it is a manipulative technique to keep him from feeling lonely and I feel it enables his ambivalence about doing the positive kind things for himself. In and out of rehabs and over 10 years in AA (who really did judge him). Very clever and creative man who has used the big book (AA bible) as an excuse that he is powerless. Really sad and tragic as we had a beautiful connection when sober and I haven’t seen him sober in over 9 months. Time to care for me and leave the future open for him for us to reconnect when he has decided to drop the ambivalence and commit to compassion for himself. We can look after ourselves. We deserve it. We’re on a learning curve and out of the maelstrom. :purple_heart:


Omy Dani. I sooo can relate w the ambivalence. Maybe model the way. You need to make a stand so you they know u are hell serious with getting a better life for yourself.

I heard in a meeting for families before where past addicts attended also, they were thankful that their partmer let them go and let them hit their bottom.


Thank you. I am taking the stand. I have scaled back our time together. Leaving him to his drinking and detox after he’s spent all his cash (even his rent money). I have been taking him to a meditation group on a Sunday morning that I attend and spending a few hours after with him talking. On Monday he was drunk and abusive by text and I told him to leave me alone for a while. Haven’t heard from him. Don’t know whether to text him if he wants to come? I’m really unsure about what to do.