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Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Work Addiction

It sounds like a funny concept, but work addiction is an actual process addiction.  According to the Addiction Help Center, a process addiction occurs when an individual becomes addicted to processes or behaviors that actually alter the brain chemistry.  Bet you never thought those 80 hour weeks could actually alter your chemicals levels, did you?

Work addictions may manifest because of a variety of underlying issues, just like any other addiction.  These addictions come in three stages, and the final stage can actually be as harmful as any substance addiction.

Just liking your job doesn’t mean that you are a work addict, but there are symptoms to watch for to clue you in to the fact that you might be taking your job a little too seriously.

Work Addiction Symptoms

Ask yourself a few questions to determine if you are addicted to work:

  • Is your entire identity tied up in your work?
  • Do you believe that working more will gain you more admiration from others?
  • Does working give you a feeling of control over your life?
  • Do you thrive on the approval you get from your boss or coworkers?
  • Do you expect perfection from yourself?
  • Do you flee to work when things at home become too emotionally intense?
  • Do you think about work at all times of the day?
  • Are you forced to lie to others to cover up how much time you are devoting to work?

Each of these questions addresses an underlying issue that you are able to resolve through working more.  Unfortunately, escaping through work isn’t a healthy way to deal with problems.

Work Addiction Stages

The best way to fight any addiction is to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.  The same is true with an addiction to your work.  If you fear you are becoming a little too attached to your job, examine the following categories to determine what kind of help you need.

  • Early Stages – Constant busyness, taking on more than you can realistically do, putting in lots of extra hours, never have time to take a day off.
  • Middle Stages – Widening distance in personal relationships, constant distraction, trouble sleeping, weight loss or gain.
  • Late Stages – Serious physical and emotional symptoms such as elevated blood pressure and chronic headaches.  At this point, the risk of stroke is also increased in the workaholic.

Think You Have a Problem?

Work addictions are treated similarly to other addictions, and a professional can give you feedback on the best ways to leave the job emotionally when you return home.  Whether you are raising a family or only accountable to yourself, no human can exist happily while constantly working.