Work Addiction

Work addicts are unable to set healthy boundaries around their job schedules and experience work as their primary purpose and satisfaction in life. Work addicts are driven to perform and seek perfection from themselves and expect it from others. They experience highs and lows like any other addiction and are unable to relax or feel a sense of accomplishment. Work addicts have a tendency to exaggerate their accomplishments and their self-importance. You may be asking, "if I enjoy my job and have a lot of passion around going to work, does that make me a work addict?" You may also be asking, "is it so bad to want to provide a good life for myself and my family?" The answer to both of these questions is no.

However, when you use work as a means of seeking approval, escape or your primary reason for living, you may be suffering from work addiction. Work addicts becomes so obsessed with themselves and their jobs that they neglect their families, friends and their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. The consequences can be devastating as in any other compulsive addictive behavior. Work addicts experience health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, anxiety, depression, sleep problems and fatigue. Work addiction may also lead to divorce, neglect of children, broken friendships and discord with co-workers.

Work addiction often goes hand in hand with other addictions including alcohol, gambling, sex, shopping, eating and drugs. The work addict puts themselves under so much stress that they believe they are entitled to “calm down” or create some intensity after a long day. An example of this would be an individual who works a 12 hour day and then closes down the bar early the next morning. Or the individual, who, after putting in a long day, goes to a massage parlor to relax and get pampered. Or, they may go home and smoke marijuana or take valium to calm down and then sit on the couch and binge on food. They wake up and the cycle begins again day after day, year after year. Work addicts are in the throws of a compulsive, addictive pattern that they cannot stop. They need help. Our culture places a lot of emphasis on the jobs we have, the cars we drive, the houses we live in and with whom we associate. One of the first questions asked when we meet new people is, “what do you do?” The common response is, “I’m a doctor, a lawyer, a salesman,”...etc.

Therapy would address the more important question of “who are you? What are your goals, values and passions? What type of man, woman, parent, spouse, friend and employee would you like to be? How would you like others to see you being?” Therapy will examine core issues like self-esteem, boundaries, reality, self-care and moderation in addition to an examination of the underlying issues that brought about the addiction in the first place.

Seth A. Weinstein, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Specializing in Addictions, Trauma and Codependency