Work Addiction

Is It Possible to Be Addicted to Working?

Some people truly love their jobs. They willingly put in more hours at work because they want to contribute to the success of the people and companies they work for. However, some people take this too far. Even people who don’t enjoy their jobs often feel the need to prove they can work hard and be successful. This can lead to work addiction – the inability to stop working despite the consequences. What causes work addiction? How does it affect your health and personal relationships – and how can you get help?

Work Addiction: Underlying Causes

Work addiction, common in perfectionists, often starts because of a desire to impress a boss or get a promotion. You seek gratification from working hard, so you might start staying later at the office even when you don’t have to. After awhile, much like a drug, you realize that working more makes you feel “high.” Before you know it, you’re bringing your work home with you – and no longer because you might get a raise as a result. You begin to use work as a way to avoid emotional stress, problems at home and feelings like emptiness, anger or depression. Like any other addiction, work becomes your safe zone – one you never want to leave.

Negative Effects of Work Addiction

Physically, work addiction can deprive you of sleep, since it convinces you to put in long hours to get as much work done as possible. Feelings of stress can make you feel fatigued. It can also result in feelings of guilt and anxiety, both when you’re working and when you aren’t. Work addiction also bleeds into your relationships, as you are more likely to make excuses and avoid spending time with loved ones for the sake of getting back to work. You may also respond irritably to family and friends when they question your choice of work over love and friendship, further distancing yourself from the people you genuinely care about.

How to Overcome an Addiction to Work

Work addiction is physically and emotionally draining. It can leave you feeling exhausted, isolated and unhappy. Though you may be aware of how your addiction is affecting you and the people around you, you may find it impossible to stop. Being away from work makes you feel anxious and disoriented. You need to work. In reality, you need to regain control of your life, and there are ways you can do that.

There are both inpatient and outpatient treatment options available for people struggling with work addiction. You might benefit from long-term individual counseling, group therapy or a combination of a number of treatments to help you change your behavior and get your life back on track. Work is important, but not if you put it before your health and happiness. You can recover, and find balance between work and your personal life again.

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