Success in a career is typically applauded and looked highly upon, as is a hard work ethic and strong drive to achieve in the workforce. However, what if working habits become so excessive that the consequences that unfold are adverse or potentially harmful to the individual and their loved ones involved?
Anything taken to an extreme measure, including work, can be harmful, even if intended for good purposes. Because a strong work ethic and drive in the career force is not only acceptable but desirable, excessive working habits, or a work addiction, can go by unnoticed.
Admitting to Work Addiction
Many individuals who struggle with a work addiction often go for months or years before admitting their struggle or realizing the consequences of their behavior. It might not be until a loved one becomes aware, relationships become strained, or other more drastic things happen before a person begins to realize the damage that has been created by their behaviors at work.
Understanding a work addiction may be difficult, as there are similar traits to other forms of addiction, but less noticeable behaviors.
A person with a work addiction may use their work as a means of escaping from a reality they can no longer deal with, whether in a relationship, a home environment, and more.
Alternatively, work may become a means of coping with emotions that are otherwise difficult to confront head-on, such as despair, grief, sadness, anger, frustration, stress and the like.
Work may be a tangible means for dealing with situations in life that are hard to face, as it is easy to hide behind a desk, or computer, or the need to make more money.
Others might find worth and value in their work success, and this can also be potentially dangerous if taken to an extreme measure. When an individual begins neglecting more important priorities or responsibilities to engage in their work, such as relationships and health, it is important to take a hard look at what work has evolved into.
The side effects of a work addiction may not be as obvious as substance abuse addiction, but if you look closely, signs and symptoms are definitely present.
A person with a work addiction may have failing health, which often results from neglect of self-care. This may be the cause of high stress/anxiety in the work place in combination with sleep deprivation or lack of adequate time to maintain a healthy eating/exercise routine.
An individual who struggles with a work addiction may also have difficulties in their relationships, such as with their spouse/partner, children, and close family members and friends. Many men and women who are dealing with a work addiction will often isolate themselves at work and disengage from social functions in order to dedicate more time to work, and this is an important red flag to be aware of.
Once a work addiction has been identified, seeking out appropriate help and treatment is necessary for recovery. Many professionals who specialize in work addiction recovery are able to guide a person through the journey of dealing with any underlying factors that may be associated with this disorder.
Treatment is also a helpful time to determine if a current career is appropriate to continue with or if a job needs to be reconsidered. Reentering the workforce after treatment for a work addiction can be challenging – particularly with the same job, as this may trigger past behaviors.
However, once underlying issues are adequately addressed, healthier coping mechanisms are developed, and strategies are in place to prevent recurring behaviors, a career and job can be renegotiated for a person who is recovering from a work addiction.
Having the assistance of a professional who specializes in work addiction can be helpful through this process, and there is no need to navigate the recovery journey alone. If you or a loved one is recovering from a work addiction, connect with a specialist today to determine the best course of treatment for you.
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 18, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com