MY RECENT PRESENTATION AT THE
BETTY FORD CENTER
was my honor and privilege to have recently been invited to present
a 90-minute talk on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding at the
trailblazing and prestigious Betty Ford Treatment Center in Rancho
Mirage, CA. Initially founded in 1978, the treatment center has been
operational for 38 years sine 1982.
First Lady Betty Ford courageously shared her personal story of
prescription drug and alcohol dependence soon after her husband,
President Gerald Ford, left office. The Betty Ford Center is set on
a sprawling campus near the Eisenhower Medical Center and treats
both women and men and has a pioneering children's program for ages
7-12 as well as a family program.
spoke on March 1st before an auditorium of at least 200 people, many
in treatment at The Betty Ford Center as well as many from the local
recovery community and the curious general public. My talk was part
of a 32-year winter program called "The Awareness Hour"
where speakers are brought in from all over during January, February
and March each year.
Betty Ford Center, which recently merged with Hazelden Treatment
Centers, is very aware of the importance of educating and treating
all addictions--even though chemical dependency has been their
presentation was well-received and I am hopeful I will be brought
back again soon to repeat and update it. My wife Tina and my brother
Sam were in the audience during my presentation and I am grateful
for their support. Two local clients also attended and it was good
to meet them face-to-face since I work counsel most of my clients by
phone and via Skype. Several people came up to me after the talk and
said, "wow, I've never heard such an interesting and different
kind of presentation." I love hearing this.
is greatly affirming and encouraging to have one of the oldest and
most reputable treatment centers find value in sharing information
on compulsive theft, spending and hoarding. I applaud them for this.
I felt well-taken care of by my contacts and met many staff and a
few clients during my visit and tour of the center.
any are interested in learning more about The Betty Ford Center, go
to their website at: www.bettyfordcenter.org
THE SHULMAN CENTER & 3rd MILLENIUM CLASSROOMS
LAUNCH ONLINE SHOPLIFTING PREVENTION PROGRAM
prior to my visit to The Betty Ford Center in California, my wife
and I were grateful to escape the Michigan cold and visit our new
partners at 3rd Millennium Classrooms in San Antonio, Texas. Founded
about 10 years ago by Gary Moorman, 3rd Millennium specializes in
developing online education programs from high schooler, college
students, and court-ordered probationers on topics of alcohol
awareness, marijuana awareness, and shoplifting
awareness/prevention, as well as other topics like better parenting.
was an honor and privilege to be contacted by 3rd Millennium 6
months ago to partner and consult with them on improving their
online shoplifting awareness/prevention course called STOPLifting.
couldn't have asked to work with more kind, dedicated and creative
people than Gary Moorman and his staff, including Katie Church and
look forward to the launch of the STOPLifting program by April 1,
2014. Please check out 3rd Millennium's website at
WHY ARE STORE RETURN POLICIES SO STRICT?
From February 2014 Real Simple Magazine
by Ashley Tate
the season of passed-on presents, when visions of store credit dance
in your head. But don't be surprised if it's harder to get that
refund this year. According to Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail
consultant, shoppers are getting pinched by newly tightened return
policies. Why? Some stores have altered their rules in response to a
growing crime: return fraud. That's when people make illicit
merchandise returns in order to get cash refunds or store credits
that they aren't entitled to (say, by reusing old receipts or
returning stolen goods). In recent years, refund fraud has totaled
about $8.8 billion annually, according to a survey by the
National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry organization. This is
bad news not only for merchants but also for honest customers, as
the cost can be passed along in the form of higher prices, says
Garth Gasse, the director of asset protection for the Retail
Industry Leaders Association, a trade group.
ways that return policies have changed vary from store to store, but
there are a few trends. For instance, popular retailers like Best
Buy and REI have reduced the refund window (the number of days that
a customer has to return something). Also, at some stores,
"there is no longer a one-size-fits-all policy," says
Edgar Dworsky, the founder of ConsumerWorld.org, a
consumer-resource site. "The rules for the return depend on
exactly what you bought." A big-box store might accept returns
on home goods, like throw pillows, for 180 days but allow only 15
days to return a TV. Why the discrepancy? "With electronics,
new models continually hit the shelves, and older models become
obsolete," says Green.
may also hit a roadblock if you attempt to return items of clothing
from which you've removed the tags. The reason: It could look as if
you're trying to commit one of the most common return scams, known
as "wardrobing." This abuse occurs when a consumer buys
something, wears it, and then returns it for a full refund.
"When someone commits wardrobing, the garment may not be resold
if it has clearly been worn-if, say, it's stretched out," says
Gasse. "So the store loses money."
to the NRF, instances of this con are rampant. More than 60 percent
of merchants reported cases of wardrobing in the past year. Some
retailers are fighting back by adding special tags to garments.
These tags are placed in a prominent exterior spot, such as the
neckline, so you can't wear the item without removing the tag, says
Green. Once the tag is removed, you cannot return the item.
not all retailers are doing to cut down on fraud. Some are
electronically tracking returns. "A clerk collects data from
your driver's license, along with information about your
return," says Dworsky. "If you exceed the number of
returns that the store allows in a particular time period, your
return will be rejected." What's the magic number? Dworsky says
that no retailer will release that information to the public.
what can you do? Keep receipts and ask for gift receipts. Read and
understand the return policies of your favorite stores. (The policy
is often posted at the register.) If you're prone to procrastinating
on returns or losing receipts, sign up for e-mail receipts, or try
to patronize retailers with ultra-generous return policies. (Lands'
End and Eddie Bauer, for example, accept any item at any time.)
Highlighted on CBS's "Sunday Morning"
Sunday February 23, 2014
poker, a "full house" is a good hand to be holding. In the
theater world, a "full house" is one in which every seat
is filled. In everyday life, a "full house" can mean a
jam-packed home with almost no room for people. Our Cover Story is
reported by Rita Braver:
some point I got a lot of stuff," said Joanne Garland. "I
kept too much paper. I kept too many books. I kept too many
much of everything! Garland's Greenfield, Mass., home is packed with
belongings she just can't part with. "Decades of stuff,
yes!" she said. "It has been picked up at times in the
past. And the volume of clothing has overwhelmed me. More has to
leave the house."
not that she hasn't tried. After years of forcing herself to throw
things out, she can actually eat in her kitchen again. But Garland
continues to hoard -- items like the wire handles from Chinese
"It's easy to bend, and you never know when I might need it, so
often do you end up needing it?" asked Braver.
very often," she replied. "But you know, I hate to waste
anything, and that has been part of my problem over the years."
is just one of millions of people who hoard. It's estimated that up
to five percent of the U.S. population has the problem, with an
equal number of men and women.
a new CBS News poll finds that a third of all Americans say
they have too much clutter in their homes.
subject of hoarding is so sensational it's become fodder for reality
beyond the spectacle, there's new recognition that hoarding is
caused by a mental condition. Last Spring, for the very first time,
the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or
DSM-5 -- the handbook for mental health experts -- recognized
hoarding as a specific disorder.
diagnosis of hoarding as a mental disorder is no surprise to Smith
College psychology professor Randy Frost, co-author of "Stuff:
Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things." He says the
formal definition of a hoarder is someone who has difficulty letting
go of possessions.
said, "You accumulate way more stuff than you need and you have
a really hard time saying goodbye to it?"
exactly right," Frost said. "But there's a third component
that's equally important, and that is the inability to keep it
has been studying and writing about hoarding since 1990. The public
has long been fascinated by dramatic stories on the subject. Back in
1947, for example, the bizarre tale of the Collyer brothers,
descendants of a well-to-do New York family, made headlines after
their bodies were discovered in their jam-packed townhouse.
almost no scientific research had been done on hoarding until about
20 years ago.
put an ad in the newspaper thinking we'd try to find somebody who
had this behavior," said Frost. "And we got 100 telephone
what we discovered was there were houses that were really full, but
yet no one had ever talked to them about it. They'd never told
anyone about it."
20 years of study have revealed some key findings:
- Hoarding affects people across the whole
- There is evidence that hoarding behavior
is inherited, at least in part;
- A significant number of hoarders also
suffer from depression; and
- The region of the brain that determines
the importance of objects (the Anterior Cingulate Cortex) shows
abnormal activity when hoarders are faced with making decisions
about dealing with their belongings.
cut-off for where this becomes a disorder really has to do with the
place at which this behavior influences their functioning, to the
point that it-its harmful or impairing their ability to live,"
are companies that help hoarders clean up and get rid of their
stuff, but that may not really address the root of the problem. So
Frost and several colleagues have developed a program they call
"Buried in Treasures" that helps hoarders understand --
and change -- their behavior.
support group meetings, "packrats" (as some prefer to call
themselves) establish very specific weekly goals.
Joanne Garland had something to brag about: "My goal was to
tidy up the two bedside tables, because I tend to read in bed, and I
did it," she said. "I did it!"
Lillian Evers didn't have the same success: "Well, I still have
my pile of mail that I eat on top of. And I sit there and look at
it, and I say, 'What's stopping you? What's the anxiety? What's the
fear?' But I don't have an answer."
fact, a big part of the support group approach is getting
participants like Mika Geffen to understand why they compulsively
an addiction," Geffen said. "I get a kick out of it,
absolutely. And that is something the group has definitely helped
with -- that the two most important things are being able to discard
and, you know, slowing down on acquiring."
for Carol Star, even recalling the moment when she admitted she had
a problem is painful.
was at home," she said, "and I was surrounded by all these
piles. And I felt like I was suffocating. And I think that's when I
really knew that I needed help more than any other time in my life.
'Cause I didn't want to be drowned by my stuff. I wanted to find a
way to make my house a house again, because it isn't right
members of this group do have a success story in their midst: leader
Lee Shuer, who said, "You can't just prove it in words, you
know. You have to prove it in actions."
see his neat kitchen now, you'd never know that eight years ago his
home was such a disaster zone that his wife gave him an ultimatum..
me or the stuff. You have to make a decision,'" Shuer recalled.
"And I made the choice to accept help right there."
the Buried in Treasures program, he has developed strategies for
separating his belongings into "keep" and "give
you still keep yourself from adding more things, picking up some
bargain somewhere?" asked Braver.
know that I haven't changed as a person; nobody else has
either," Lee Shuer said. "You still have the impulse. But
your reaction to it changes over time."
he added, "some of the thrill is gone for me."
for Lee Shuer and anyone else with the urge to hoard, it is likely
to be a lifelong struggle. "It is work, yeah," he said.
"Because you're replacing something that might have been the
one thing that made life worth living. That's pretty
"In Recovery" Magazine
a wonderful relatively new quarterly recovery magazine I want to let
you know about. It's called "In Recovery." Founded 2 years
ago by Kim Welsh, a recovering person herself, in Prescott,
Arizona--home to many treatment centers and half-way houses, this
magazine has something for everyone. I visited Kim in October 2013
and was honored to be invited to write a regular column about
process/behavioral addictions--starting Spring 2014.
magazine is available in hard copy as well as online at:
Millenium STOPLifting Online Education Course!
Millenium Classrooms out of San Antonio, TX has been offering high-quality
online education courses for alcohol, marijuana and shoplifting
issues for many years now. I've been honored to help them fine-tune
and update their shoplifting course which many are court-ordered to
complete after an arrest.
3rd Millennium Classroom's STOPLifting is an online intervention
course designed to assist shoplifters in examining and altering
their attitudes and behaviors towards shoplifting. The course
incorporates evidential examples and related follow-up questions to
discover the student's motives behind shoplifting, reveal possible
patterns in his or her behaviors, and identify potential triggers
and ways to cope. Through STOPLifting's unique motivational
interviewing style, students are encouraged to evaluate the personal
consequences of shoplifting and how they affect the individual, his
or her family and those around him or her. See: www.3rdmiclassrooms.com
National Clean-Up Services
is its own reward.--Anonymous