Signs and Symptoms of a Work Addiction

Woman Working During Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

In the movie “Hook” starring Robin Williams, Robin plays Peter as both an adult, and a child. The movie starts with Robin attempting to attend a baseball game for his son and when he arrives the game has already ended.

He attends a play for this daughter but his cell phone goes off during her performance. His office calls soon after his family arrives at their destination in London and his family’s frustration is captured on film.

Shot after shot reflect Peter’s focus on his work and the effect is it taking on his marriage and family life [1].

Many people are familiar with the term ‘workaholic’ or ‘workaholism.’ It is a term that is often used to describe someone that works excessively, like Peter.

However, few realize that work addiction is considered an actual addiction. Work addiction is considered a process addiction, similar to gaming, gambling, shopping and sex.

Sunspire Health

Signs and Symptoms

Friends and spouses have waited for their loved ones anxiously to arrive at dinner only to learn that they are unable to make it because they have to work late. This type of behavior is not unusual in today’s age of hard work and hustle.

Three pretty friends having a serious conversation

As people set off climbing the corporate ladder, they work harder and harder, with time for social gatherings becoming less and less. The scenes described above in the beginning of the movie are relatable because this is how we often live.

Just because one is working hard and setting lofty goals, it does not mean they are suffering from workaholism. An individual truly addicted to work may exhibit these signs and symptoms [2]:

  • Preoccupation with work, but work is no longer enjoyable
  • Lack of focus on activities or conversations outside of work
  • Irritation when interrupted or taken away from work
  • Not taking vacations or working during vacation
  • Relationship strain, due to often missing important social and family events for work
  • Emotional strain, exhibiting signs of high stress, low self-esteem, and anxiety

The Physical Toll

Working long hours and not taking care of oneself can also take a toll on a person physically. A workaholic may show the following physical symptoms:

  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia or other sleeping problems
  • Pain

Frustrated_man_at_a_desk_(cropped)Peter goes on in the movie to be confronted by his son, and he begins to understand the importance of family when he almost loses them to Captain Hook.

He throws his cell phone away and the viewer knows that Peter’s priorities have been reset.

The ending is more dramatic than a trip to the counselor or therapist’s office to overcome his addiction.

However, we know that in reality he would need to take more steps to change the life than what he did on the set, but I believe the point comes across well.

In writing this article I did some research on what people most regret at the end of their life, and I believe it fits well with this topic.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by Bronnie Ware [3]:

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  5. “I wish I had let myself be happier”.

We hear all the time from our elders how quickly time goes by, if you believe you, or your loved one, are suffering from a work addiction, take time now to seek out the advice and care of a professional therapist.

They are trained to provide tools and support to help regain the control of one’s life. If you are reading this, it’s not too late to throw the cell phone out the window and live your life without the regret that comes from an addiction to work.



1. Spielberg, S. (Director). (1991). Hook [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: TriStar Pictures.
2. Sussman, S. (2012, January 10). Workaholism: A Review. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from
3. Roese, N. J., & Summerville, A. (2005, September). What We Regret Most … and Why. Retrieved January 28, 2016, from

Jane McGuireAbout the author: Jane McGuire is the Director of Content at Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. Jane graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jane believes that everyone has a story of trial, that when shared, can be used to benefit and encourage someone else who is struggling to find hope and direction.

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.

Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 14, 2016
Published on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.