Addictions- Workaholism

This week we are focusing on addictions. If you have not read the previous blogs, it is important to do so as Teri has actually defined an addiction. Tamara also made an excellent point in saying with addictions, it is not always the "how much" someone is doing something but they "why". That is so true.

I am going to talk to you about work addiction. This is another addiction that is difficult because you can't just cut work out, you have to learn to do it appropriately. Work addiction usually starts out innocently, like most addictions, where someone just has a lot of drive and wants to succeed. They start working hard at a young age and develop patterns of working a lot, striving to be perfect, looking for approval from others, and being rewarded for their behaviors.

Many people may look at this and think, "What is wrong with that? Shouldn't we all do that in our jobs?" We definitely all need to strive to do as well as we can at our job but when it starts taking over our lives and becomes our primary focus, that is when it becomes a problem. Here are some common characteristics of a workaholic:

1. Works long hours, not because it is what is required but because they are driven to perfection and praise from others

2. Their relationships are affected by their work ( spouse is hurt that they don't get enough time, kids not getting quality time, not taking time for yourself to relax)

3. Nothing is ever good enough- a promotion isn't good enough, you want to keep moving higher

4. Constantly checking emails, making phone calls etc compulsively- can't let go of work

5. Lies about working or hides they have been working, usually because their partner has asked them to take a break to be with them or their kids

6. They get an adrenaline rush from meeting a deadline or moving from one crisis t to the next.

7. They take on tasks they could delegate because "no one else can do it right".

It has been really difficult for our clients to identify workaholism more recently with the poor economy. Many bosses ARE expecting way too much from their employees and the worker is having to do it to keep their job. We are not talking about this at all. We are talking about someone who uses work to numb and avoid pain in their life and whose life is out of balance because of their CHOICE to work so much. Their relationships are suffering, kids are suffering, and their health both physical and mental are suffering because their lives are out of balance. Many people think this isn't a "real" addiction but it is. We have seen families torn apart and people literally drive themselves into the grave due to workaholism.

Thank you for reading. Have a great weekend!

Written by Natalie Chandler

*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.