Alcoholism has often been described as an obsession of the mind coupled with an affliction of the body. Take away alcohol from alcoholics, and their bodies will begin to recover quickly in most cases, but the obsession of the mind can persist for a lifetime. It’s this obsession of the mind that can manifest itself in many ways other than alcoholism–sex addiction, eating disorders, emotional meltdowns–and workaholics often find themselves in this category.
Another common characterization of alcohol addiction is that it is just a symptom of a larger mental issue. Many people who have the “mind of an alcoholic” do not always express this obsession of the mind in alcohol abuse; their mania finds another seemingly healthier route, and they become workaholics.
Many other times, alcohol abuse walks hand-in-hand with workaholics. Workaholics are statistically more likely to become alcoholics, and those recovering from alcohol addiction often become workaholics as a substitute obsession. In fact, Phyllis Miller, Master’s level therapist at Cornerstone Recovery Center, points out, “We teach our clients how to examine and dispute those obsessive thought processes that lead to other addictions.”
Workaholics: Healthy Work Ethic or Obsession?
America is a hardworking country. Images of stock brokers and high level executives in New York and Chicago battling day in and day out to make money for their clients are etched in the country’s collective consciousness. Farmers and industrial workers in states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania helped build the country into what it is today. Longshoreman in the Boston and New England areas are legendary for their tireless journeys on the open ocean. Americans often pride themselves on working long hours and see it as a virtue.
But this is not always the case. The “Type A personality” is found as commonly in the rooms of recovery as they are in corporate boardrooms. In the medical journal Addiction, a recent article published by researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand has shown that workaholics are three times as likely to suffer from alcohol addiction. People who work over 50 hours a week are at greatest risk for abusing alcohol as a way of handling their heavy work load.
Recovering Alcoholics at Risk
Recovering alcoholics who lose themselves in their work are also at risk, though it’s difficult to pinpoint numbers. Within the recovery community, however, there is no shortage of stories of the recovering alcoholic who simply switches addictions – they overwhelm themselves with work to avoid dealing with the issues that landed them in an addiction treatment center in the first place. The people in this category often relapse.
Workaholics often find a sense of control in delving into their work at obsessive levels, to the neglect of their families, social life, and other “outside of work” activities. They often find honest, meaningful relationships difficult to cultivate in their personal lives, so they drown themselves in work to avoid dealing with this issue.
It becomes the ultimate excuse: the family of a workaholic who depends on the breadwinner finds it difficult to criticize hard work, and the workaholic is well aware of this dynamic.
The same addictive behaviors with drugs and alcohol will be on display with the workaholic. They may include:
- Sneaking their work into what should be social or family situations
- Obsessively checking work emails, especially hiding out of sight while doing it
- Skipping meals or otherwise neglecting healthy eating habits in order to keep working
- Searching but never being able to find a satisfying “high” no matter how much time is spent working
- Continuing to work even when seriously ill
Because workaholics often share so many of the same traits as alcoholics, addiction treatment can work for them, even if they never had any signs of chemical dependency. Other times, the alcoholic who is also a workaholic needs to have those issues addressed at a recovery center. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to alcohol or work, do not hesitate to seek help from Cornerstone Recovery Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Call 1-888-711-0354 today.