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Work Addiction


If people become overly obsessed with their work then it can lead to real problems in their life. Being a hard worker can definitely be a positive character trait but the problem with workaholism is that it means that the individual has allowed their job to impact other areas of their life negatively. It is also the case that this obsession eventually begins to affect the person’s ability to do their job competently.

What is Work Addiction?

One way to explain work addiction is to say that the person has a compulsive need to work even though this is leading to negative effects in their life. The workaholic is unable to separate their working life from the rest of their life and this is causing problems for them.

Dangers of Work Addiction

There are some significant dangers associated with work addiction. We have included some of these below.

  • When people work too hard they can become stressed and this can have a negative impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • It can lead to a burnout where things become so bad that the individual is unable to cope anymore.
  • In order to get the most out of life it is important that people enjoy a good deal of balance with lots of different interests. The problem with work addiction is that it means the person’s life will be very unbalanced.
  • The fact that the person is so stressed means they are likely to make bad decisions, and this could easily mean that they end up losing their job.
  • Being a workaholic can reduce the person’s ability to be creative, and this is a real problem in any job that requires creativity.
  • It will usually mean that the individual is neglecting their loved ones as well as their social responsibilities.
  • It can mean that the individual struggles to form any meaningful relationships because the only thing they can really talk about is work.
  • The individual will be willing to take on far more work than they can manage.
  • In a few years, the person may deeply regret that they devoted so much time to work. This can be the case particularly if the individual misses out on the important years of their child’s life because they were so focused on work.
  • The person can become so overwhelmed with work problems that they decide to commit suicide.

Work Addiction in Alcohol and Drug Recovery

It is common for people who have been addicted to alcohol or drugs to fall into work addiction once they become sober. This can be very dangerous for them because of the below reasons.

  • The person can use the fact that they are dealing with so much stress as a justification for relapse.
  • The individual will just be moving from one obsession to another – sort of like moving from one prison to another.
  • It will mean that their loved ones will continue to suffer because of addiction.
  • The individual will be hiding from their problems and this means that they will not be making any real progress in recovery.
  • If the person begins to earn a large amount of money because of their workaholism, they may view this as a sign that they are cured of addiction – they might then use it as an excuse to celebrate with alcohol or drugs.

The symptoms of Work Addiction

Workaholism is like other types of addiction insofar as it usually creeps up on people. The individual may be doing well and working hard but somewhere along the way, they cross the line into workaholism. It often occurs when the individual is finding life difficult and so they throw themselves into their work. The symptoms of work addiction will often be more obvious to other people at first than to the individual. These symptoms can include:

  • the person seems to have no clear boundary between their work and home life, and they will regularly bring their work home with them
  • the individual seems to always think about work – it may be the thing that they spend most of their time talking about
  • this person might seem to never really take a break from work – it is like they are always switched on
  • the individual becomes anxious and uncomfortable when they are not working. This means that they may struggle to relax when on holiday or on a day off
  • the person may bring work related projects with them on holiday
  • an excessively large part of the person’s identity is associated with their job
  • the individual associates any failures at work as meaning that they are a failure as a human being. It is like all of their self-worth comes by way of their job
  • the person who is addicted to work is likely to frequently neglect their family and friends
  • they might regularly miss out on social occasions with the excuse that they have work to do
  • they spend more time at work then their colleagues do
  • the individual is convinced that the company they work for could not survive without them. They feel personally responsible for the fortunes of this company
  • they will be the first to volunteer for extra work – even though they may already be complaining that they have too much work to do
  • they always seem to be busy, yet they do not seem to get much done
  • if they experience any problems at work, they will take this very personally
  • they struggle when it comes to time management
  • they may find it hard to relate to other humans who are not similarly obsessed with their jobs.

How to Deal with Work Addiction

Work addiction is a serious problem and it can lead to serious consequences. This type of maladaptive behaviour does not get the same attention as alcohol or drug addiction but it can be as devastating. It is vital that anyone who is engaging in this behaviour gets some help. Below are some of the options they can choose.

  • The work addict will usually be engaged in this activity because they are unable to cope with life. The answer then may be for them to develop more effective coping strategies.
  • It may be a good idea for this individual to spend time with a therapist as this will allow them to get to the underlying issues driving the addiction.
  • It is common for people who are dealing with workaholism to also have substance abuse problems. In many instances then, the best option might be for the individual to enter rehab so that they can get help for all of their addiction problems at once.
  • There is an online and offline community made up of people who are also dealing with this type of problem. A good example of this type of support group is Workaholics Anonymous.
  • It is vital that the individual develops other interests so they are not just focused on work. These interests could include hobbies or sports.

It is also important that the individual learn to separate the rest of their life from their work life as much as possible.

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