Work addiction

Nearly every working person is addicted to work in North America and Western Europe. Hard work is praised, rewarded and supported by the society. Work addiction , or workaholism, has long not been recognized to be a pathological state. However, this type of compulsive disorder is said to be a silent killer, having more dangerous effects on body’s systems than any other addictions. More people are known to die of heart disease and other overwork related illnesses than all drug and alcohol addictions combined.

Work addiction syndrome

The work addiction syndrome is defined by focusing on productivity, doing things out of the sense of enthusiasm, work being the only and most important aim in an addict’s life. People who suffer with this type of obsessive compulsive disorder basically cannot control the amount of work, set healthy limits and regulate their schedule.

The effects of workaholism do not depend on gender, age or industry. The country, which is an example of the work addiction syndrome, is Japan, where more than 10,000 people experience the effects of this syndrome every year. At least two people die from this obsessive compulsive disorder every year in Japan. In this country work addiction is called Karoshi, meaning death from overwork.
James W. Leth describes a dilemma of work and life in his article on "Technology and the Work Ethic". He says”To enjoy the good life, you must earn a good salary. To earn a good salary, you can’t have a life.” People, who have the work addiction syndrome usually, do not notice that they have a problem. What they do know is that their life is not fun anymore, meaning, that they have subconsciously chosen work and money instead of amusement in life.

Additionally, a person, who is a workaholic, typically arranges everything in life around his/her work. He/she has difficulties in building activities or finding hobbies outside the work. The addict is not able to relax and enjoy life, which affects his/her social relations. Some say that a workaholic has a distorted picture of perfectionism — he/she can never reach the state at which such a person would be totally satisfied with the work results.

Work addiction symptoms

The main symptoms of workaholism include spending more time at work than a person does with his family or friends, feeling week to say “no” to work and hard tasks, thinking that you are the only one, who can do all the work alone. Other features of this type of addiction are denial of the problem, affected social spheres and physical health problems. Work addiction, as all other psychological addictions, also include withdrawal signs, which are anxiety, feeling of dissatisfaction while being on vacation or going home from work earlier than usually.

Although you might think that the hardest part is treating the problem, the harder is actually to admit to having the problem — it is the very first step to recovery. If you notice any of the above mentioned signs in yourself or other people, close to you, do not hesitate to consult a professional. It is naïve to think that you would be able to deal with the problem on your own without any help.

Professionals usually offer individual or group therapy to work addicts. Some offer special seminars that help people to adjust their life styles, set their new priorities and discover joys in life. With your cooperation and professional help treatment is usually successful in most of the cases.
Finding the balance between good life and hard work is an understandable and very difficult choice. When I think about it, I always remember the five balls. Four of the balls are rubber-made and the fifth one is made of glass. The first four represent money, work, carrier and pride — they are unbreakable and just like a rubber ball can bounce back to you. The fifth one represents a family and health and is the most fragile ball of all — you break it you will never have it back. I always keep a careful eye on the fifth one.

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