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Are You a Workaholic, or Just a Hard Worker?

workaholic or hard workerCould there really be a respectable addiction? Work. We all do it, we all need it. Working a lot, or being labeled a “workaholic,” has been seemingly glamorized in our society.

Addiction to work is highly debated and not as seriously considered as a health hazard  compared to other behavioral addictions such as gambling, sex, exercise or video gaming.

But experts like Dr. Barbara Killinger, an author and clinical psychologist who specializes in workaholism, characterizes a workaholic as “a work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success.”

There is nothing wrong with hard work. There’s a difference between a hard worker and a workaholic, though. A periodic burst of overworking in order to meet an important deadline or an emergency situation is normal. Hard workers are still emotionally present for their family members, coworkers and friends, and manage to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal.

Workaholism, on the other hand, is displayed by this progression:

  • Obsession with work performance and hooked on an adrenalin-high
  • Very fast walking, talking, eating, etc… so that they can get to work.
  • Overscheduling
  • Panic attacks, claustrophobia, depression, and acute sleep disturbance as a result of buildup of stress.

There are three types of workaholics:

1. The Passive-Aggressive Pleaser

Desperately wants to be accepted by their fellow coworkers and bosses so they set no boundaries, and will do almost anything to gain accolades for admiration.  

2. The Controller

Crave authority and always want to be in control. Often arrogant and intense, but can be most charming, witty, and appear sociable when it serves their purpose. Many have business-related acquaintances, but few intimate friends, thus a minimal social life.

3. The Narcissistic Controller

A Controller to the extreme in that they absolutely must be right, have to do things their way, and can only see their own point of view. They are manipulative, relentless in driving their own agenda regardless of the potential repercussions. They also have no regard for rules and regulations and jeopardize the welfare of others, and can show an alarming disregard for ethics and morality.

A useful strategy for those who love work a little too much is to purposely follow periodic episodes of work overload with a reduced schedule or days off quickly thereafter to restore depleted social and personal responsibilities. Reserve energy for the home and “put a fence,” such as no checking email or taking calls, around non-work time.

Working hard is noble, but workaholism is a severe imbalance that can hugely affect one’s personal health and immediate family. Workaholics don’t have to go cold turkey or quit their jobs, however. There are plentiful self-care programs that help workaholics rediscover balance, whether it’s family, friendships, religion, or beliefs.


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.

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