Is Work Addiction Real?

Is Work Addiction Real?


Workaholism – The Signs And Symptoms

Though it may begin as ambition and drive, work addiction can become as destructive to individuals as other types of addictions. Work addictions employ all of the same elements as most other addictions: fear, disorientation, inability to focus and robotic behavior to control the individual’s environment. Work addictions can be as dangerous to the body as it is to the mind. The inability to pull oneself away from the work environment for a day or two is one sign of work addictions. Another sign might be the need to always be in motion. Work addictions are like a child’s top that is wound internally and keeps spinning and spinning until it has worn down to its last revolution.

Work Addictions – How They Begin

Work addictions, like other types of addictions, may begin early in childhood when the individual personality begins to form. At first, it may be an unusual drive and need for limitless achievements. By the time the addiction is in its second stage, the college student with this addiction may resort to chemical stimulants that help with studies or exams. Sleeplessness and a sense of being overwrought often leads the graduate to become work addicted with the onset of an entry level position in their chosen career. The need to prove qualifications and capabilities by “going the distance” and outpacing fellow employees is another sign that there is gradual acceleration of these work addictions. As job promotions increase so does the individual’s inability to extract him/herself from the work environment. Fear of job or promotion loss grows out of proportion and may affect eating habits. Sacrificing breakfast and dinner to work longer and harder, the overly ambitious work addicted employee compromises their health in order to continually climb an irrationally high ladder of perceived success.

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Loss Of Relationships And Growing Isolation

One of the biggest pitfalls of work addictions occur in the final stages. This is when the numbers of hours spent at work exceed the number of hours spent with family or friends. For those in committed relationships, the ties of intimacy begin to unravel while the addicted begins to speak in a non-stop or faster staccato and seems unable to find a moment of stillness. For friends of the work addicted, the marked changes in the personality are easily identifiable. Socializing, relaxation and pleasure become anathema and friends begin to dwindle. The work addicted person seems consoled solely by the ability to be involved in work projects. The individual is the first to arrive at the workplace and the last to leave. They are no longer aware of the events taking place outside the work venue.

Are Work Addictions A Mental Illness?

The medical profession believes certain types of addictions are a form of disease. The chemical link between the drug addicted and the altering of mental health is attributable to addictive chemicals. But, addictions related to human behaviors are often altered solely by human design and are linked to an unrecognized mental condition that may have exaggerated or exacerbated a strong willed personality and tipped the mental balance past the point of rationalization. Thus, many psychologists and psychiatrists label work addictions under the same behavioral categories as bulimia, anorexia, fetishes and morbidly repetitive behaviors like self-flagellation, cutting, hair pulling, etc.

Treatment For Work Addiction

The specific treatments available for work addictions depend on the extent and nature of the disease. Usually, professionals will attempt to elicit the basis of the fears or psychosis and then prescribe treatment that will alleviate stress and counter behavioral tendencies of these addictions.

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