One of the great benefits of sobriety is that people can now make a success of their life. Many individuals in recovery do amazing things, and it is sometimes hard to imagine that they ever could have been an addict. There are so many examples of people who became sober and then went on to build stellar careers. Such individuals will have needed to work hard for their success, but those with a strong recovery will not have neglected other areas of their life. Some people work extremely hard, but this turns out to be a destructive force in their recovery. This is because they have developed a condition known as workaholism.
Workaholism can be defined as a compulsive and unrelenting need to work. Instead of work being something that adds to the individual’s life it begins to be a source of harm. It is like they are unable to shut off from their jobs. There is no clear barrier between their work and home life.
Those who have been addicted to alcohol or drugs are often described as having an addictive personality. This means that they have certain personal characteristics that make them more prone to addictive behaviors. When people become sober there is a risk that they could slip into another addiction. One way this could happen is that they become obsessed with their work. Another reason for why people might develop workaholism is that they are trying to escape the challenges of recovery. By putting all their focus on work they can ignore other areas of their life.
Workaholism is on the rise. There are a number of reasons why people fall into this trap including:
* The modern work ethos promotes workaholism. There is a great deal of pressure on people to work hard so that they can become successful. Modern business heroes are praised for their willingness to give their heart and soul to the company. The media supports the idea that people need to work extremely hard if they want to be a success on life.
* There is a sense of fear that drives people into working harder than they should. They may feel that if they don’t do extra work their jobs will be in jeopardy. This fear can be deliberately created in some work environments.
* There is a great deal of peer pressure on people to perform well at work. If they fail to maintain a highly successful work record, they can be made to feel like they are letting the company down or not doing enough to support their family.
* People want to climb the corporate ladder. It is exciting and addictive. People are told that they only way they can get ahead is by working harder than anyone else.
* When people become obsessed with work, they may end up avoiding dealing with other areas of their life that might be causing them problems.
Working too hard can have a negative impact on people’s life. The potential dangers include:
* People who are addicted to their work will usually miss out on the good things in life. They may be too busy to spend time with their kids and so miss out on that special time. This can be a reason for deep regret later in life. Happiness is found when people have a sense of balance in their life.
* It can be almost as destructive to relationships as alcoholism. Loved ones feel neglected and taken for granted.
* People who work too hard will deal with a great deal of stress. This negatively impacts their health and can lead to many different chronic conditions such as heart disease. Making time to relax is vital for mental and physical health, and this will be something that workaholics are not getting enough of.
* Workaholism stifles creativity.
* Even though workaholics may put many hours into their jobs they can still end up ruining their career. They will make poor decisions and eventually burn out.
* Those individuals who are in recovery increase their risk of relapse by becoming too obsessed with work. This is because they will neglect the things they need to do in order to maintain their sobriety.
If people are overdoing it at work it can eventually become so overwhelming that they can no longer function normally. The symptoms of burnout include:
* Unexplained physical symptoms such as backache and headache
* Lack of energy
* Changes to appetite
* Inability to sleep at night
* Alcohol or drug abuse
* Cynicism about work
* Increasing difficulty with colleagues
* A feeling of dissatisfaction with life and personal achievements. The individual feels like a failure
* Disillusionment or even dream about going to work
Addicts may turn to workaholism as part of the relapse process. They encounter a challenge in recovery that they feel unwilling to face. They instead try to ignore the problem, but this means they stop progressing in recovery. This lack of progress creates tension in the individual’s life which they attempt to escape this by turning to maladaptive behaviors such as workaholism. This creates further problems, and eventually the individual feels overwhelmed by it all. They return to alcohol or drugs in order to escape the discomfort in their life.
Becoming too obsessed with work can have dramatic consequences on a person’s life. The symptoms of workaholism include:
* Work has become the most important thing in a person’s life – everything else seems to take a backseat.
* They never seem to shut off from work.
* This individual is always talking about their work.
* They neglect family and friends and frequently miss social occasions and appointments because of work. When they do spend time with loved ones they will generally be distracted.
* They will often feel bored if they are not working.
* A workaholic may continue to work during their vacation time. They may even bring their laptop to the beach so that they can get some work done.
* They are first in the office in the morning and last to leave at night
* They will frequently bring work home.
* These individuals always seem to be willing to take on extra work.
* A great deal of their identity is tied in with their job.
* They become frustrated with other people who do not share their obsession with work.
* Troubled personal relationships because this individual always seems to be working.
* They seem unaware of their own strengths and limitations. This means that they are willing to take on projects even though they do not possess the necessary skills.
* A workaholic feels on edge if they take a day off work.
* Workaholics tend to have poor time management skills.
* They will regularly work more than 40 hours a week
Workaholism can have a devastating impact on the individual’s life. There are things they can do to avoid this problem including:
* People need to make a clear distinction between work and home life. They need to stop bringing work home if at all possible.
* It is crucial that people should have other interests beside their work. They should avoid turning all their hobbies into ways to make money.
* Relaxing holidays from work should not be considered a luxury – they are a necessity. The individual needs to avoid bringing any work with them on holiday.
* It is important for people to put their job into perspective. Family needs to come first. There is the famous saying about how nobody ever regrets not spending more hours in the office when they are on their deathbed.
* It is vital that the individual clearly understands their own strengths and limitations. They need to be able to turn down any projects they do not feel comfortable with.
* There are many great techniques to help people manage their time better. This often means that they can get more done in less time. Good time management means there will be less need to come early and leave late.
* Those individuals who work from home should establish a reasonable work schedule and stick to this. They will need to make more of an effort to separate their work and home life.
* It is best if people view their job as being more like a cog in the wheel rather than them being the lynch pin on which the business depends. Managers need to learn how to delegate work and hand over responsibility.
* A meditation practice can help people relax and develop a healthier relationship with work.
* If possible, people should avoid working more than 40 hours a week.