Workaholism is a type of addiction that is not taken seriously. It is not the same as someone who works hard or tries to keep his job. It is an obsessive-compulsive behavior that can lead to serious consequences.
Unlike a person who wants to be a good employee or who is a determined entrepreneur, workaholics have no sense of balance in their lives. Even when they are away from work, they cannot stop thinking about work or stop doing some work-related activity. Even if they are told that they are damaging their health or that their personal relationships are suffering, they follow the same demanding work schedule.
What is work addiction?
While the idea of work addiction may seem like a new way of describing a motivated person, work addiction is a real mental health condition.
As with any other addiction, the person with work addiction is unable to stop his behavior. This behavior is often due to a compulsive need to achieve status and succeed, or the need to escape emotional stress. Workaholism is often driven by work success and is common for people who can be described as perfectionists.
Like someone with a drug addiction, a person with work addiction manages to have a “euphoria” to participate in work activities. This leads him to keep repeating the behavior that this euphoria gives him. People with work addiction may be unable to stop this behavior, despite the negative consequences for their lives or for mental health.
The signs of workaholism
In a culture where hard work is appreciated and a person is often expected to work extra, it can be difficult to recognize a workaholic. People with workaholics usually justify their behavior, explaining that it is a good thing and that it can help them achieve success. They may simply seem committed to the work or success of their projects. However, ambition and addiction are very different things. A person with work addiction engages in work compulsively in order to avoid other aspects of his life, particularly emotional problems or some personal crisis.
Here are some signs that may indicate that a person is addicted to work:
- He is always in a hurry to do things
- Feel anxious when not working
- He’s denying he has a problem when someone tells him
- You have health problems caused by lack of sleep, exercise and/or proper diet
- Inability to relax during your vacation or spend time with family due to work
- He spends all his time working instead of being with family and/or friends
- He thinks he is the only one who can do the job “right”
The causes of work addiction
There may be a physical component in work addiction. People with this type of addiction can be attracted to careers that are demanding or stressful. They find that they enjoy the adrenaline that appears in response to stressful situations. To recreate the “euphoria” on several occasions, they spend an excessive amount of time at work, so they can be where the action is.
Another reason why someone can develop a workaholic is low self-esteem. The workaholic may come from a family where nothing they did was good enough, so he thinks that an extraordinary effort at work is the best thing he can do to increase his self-esteem. Unfortunately, he is so focused on trying to achieve perfection that he may not be able to complete his work or his projects, since nothing is perfect. Other workaholics grew up in a home where the father was an addict, and they are constantly trying to control their environment, since they were not able to do so as children.
Consequences of workaholic
Being a workaholic has negative consequences for an individual, which may include:
- Suicide attempt
- Breaking a relationship, separation and/or divorce
- Increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke
Help and treatment for workaholic
With help, a workaholic can learn to have a more balanced life. Seeing a therapist with experience in treating workaholics is a way to change their behavior. When it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder, medications may be prescribed to help relieve stress. Making an appointment with the GP is a good idea, since work addiction can lead to health problems. Deciding that you want to stop this behavior and receive treatment for workaholism is the first step.
Recovery and rehabilitation of workaholic addiction
Continuing to see a therapist is the right choice for some workaholics in recovery. Others find that a 12-step program, such as anonymous addicts, is a good source of help and support to help them maintain the necessary balance in their lives. The same goes for interaction with people with the same addiction.