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by Abigail Van Buren

Bargain Hunting Husband Has a Serious Hoarding Problem

DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Secondhand Rose" (June 11) was well-intentioned but won't provide the level of intervention her husband needs. He's clearly a compulsive shopper and hoarder, and her going along on his buying trips will only lead to more family conflict and bad feelings without solving anything.

He needs cognitive behavioral therapy, the sooner the better. Like all addicts, he will probably be unwilling to admit he needs treatment and resist going. The best way to deal with this is family intervention -- like what is done with alcoholics and drug addicts.

The family would be helped by going to Al-Anon meetings for support and to help them understand. Just substitute the word "hoarding" for alcohol and the picture will be clear. If there's a Clutterers Anonymous meeting nearby and he is willing to go, that would be ideal. There are also online meetings.

Hoarding is a serious, life-threatening and life-consuming disorder like any other addiction. Getting better without treatment is unlikely. -- GLORIA V., ONE WHO KNOWS

DEAR GLORIA: Many readers felt as you do, that "Secondhand Rose's" husband has a serious disorder and needs professional help. One organization that has been mentioned before in this column is The Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation. Its website is www.ocfoundation.org. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I have a suggestion for Rose. Why not check with a local charity and ask what it needs? Give her husband the list and have him search for bargains, then donate them to the charity. It's win-win. The donation can be declared on their tax return, they won't have loads of clutter, the charity benefits, and her husband can continue to use his bargain-hunting skills. -- VICTORIA IN OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR ABBY: Hoarding goes far beyond being an avid shopper or simply a clutterbug or pack rat. Hoarding is compulsive. It gets worse over time and turns one's home into a dangerous, dusty and unhealthy place to live. Hoarders' inability to let go overrides everything else -- their families' needs for functional space to sleep, eat and prepare food.

Recently some TV shows have shed light on this behavior. It hurts those closest to the hoarder. Children of hoarders are not able to visit their parents, and the legacy of shame and hurt of the illness goes on for a lifetime as family members realize that stuff means more to the hoarder than they do.

This isn't a problem someone can fix easily. The hoarder has to be willing as well, and professional intervention is needed. -- ADULT CHILD OF A HOARDER

DEAR ABBY: Is it possible that this collector could turn his hobby into a business? In this poor economy, more people are buying used. Some options would be: garage sales of his own, or rent a small shop or space in a consignment store. We may have a budding entrepreneur here. -- PAULA IN JEFFERSON CITY, MO.

DEAR ABBY: Rose's husband has a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her conclusion that her home is turning into a warehouse is correct; hoarders value trash and are blind to their illness, believing they are only "collectors." They twist every conversation you have with them in an attempt to save their trash and will destroy normal relationships with family.

Rose needs to educate and protect herself before it's too late. Eventually her home will completely deteriorate because normal maintenance will be impossible. She won't be able to clean because of the piles of junk. -- STILL DIGGING OUT IN CALIFORNIA

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