9 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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The shifting economy has affected everyone equally, yet many are now working much harder than before and consequently feeling overworked. However, for some, the urge to work harder and harder goes deeper than simply paying the bills: it’s there because there are addicted.

Striving for fulfilment, career progression, and success is completely normal behaviour, but when the driving factor behind this attitude is a compulsive need to work, it can start negatively affecting other aspects of life. Work addiction is real, and no matter how much people deny it, a huge majority of individuals continue to suffer from it in silence. Fortunately, getting this fairly common issue sorted out is now possible by enrolling in a work addiction rehabilitation centre with experts trained to handle this neglected type of addiction.

Work addiction, also known as workaholism, is a term used to depict an uncontrollable urge to work consistently. A workaholic is, hence, a person who suffers from this condition. Despite being recognised and accepted in the popular culture and with backed by more than forty years of literature, work addiction still continues to be an informal medical condition. It is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the most authentic handbook used by professionals to tackle mental health issues.

A major reason behind the lack of recognition of workaholism is that work, even an excessive amount, is generally considered a positive trait instead of a problem. Overwork is often rewarded, both culturally and financially and may cause a person to be seen in a positive light in a variety of ways. However, none of this is enough to negate it as a real problem that carries the potential to interfere with the functioning of life as well as relationships, just like other addictions.

Various factors can drive become to develop a work addiction. Some of the most common reasons for this include:

Biological Factors

Work addiction is largely influenced by a genetic predisposition to some addictive personality traits. Some individuals also carry a genetic vulnerability to develop this issue, such as those with an inability to resist impulses. People with a family history of work addiction are also at an increased risk of developing it themselves.

Psychological Factors

These factors include getting a psychological buzz from working. Examples include getting positive feedback from a boss, getting rewards, or leading to feelings of happiness and pleasure by excessive involvement in work. Some people also develop an addiction to work to escape negative life situations, such as a damaged relationship or financial crisis.

Social Factors

For many people, workaholism stems from social factors, such as workplace culture and policies or relationships with other colleagues. Some organisations normalise working long hours and consider it a socially acceptable norm. Interestingly, good workplace relationships may also contribute to developing this addiction as these relationships may make an individual feel obliged to work at the best of their abilities.

Because work addiction is a type of behavioural disorder similar to compulsive buying or gambling addiction, the treatment for this issue heavily emphasises behavioural and cognitive strategies, motivational interviewing, the 12-step approach, and multidimensional family therapy.

Behavioural Intervention Therapy

This type of therapy focuses on strategies such as imaginary desensitisation, relaxation techniques, social skills training, assertiveness training, problem-solving techniques, and behavioural monitoring.

Cognitive Intervention Therapy

This therapy aims to alter compulsive behaviours of work addicts by changing their mindset toward work patterns. This approach is often used with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for better response.

Motivational Interviewing

A lot of people addicted to work do not know how to feel about the concept of changing their work patterns. Most of them also fail to realise how excessive work is affecting their interpersonal relationships and mental and physical health. Motivational interviewing is offered to such people as a part of a work addiction treatment program to help reduce this ambivalence. The aim is to work with the clients and make them realise the negative consequences of compulsive working.

Family Therapy

 A majority of workaholics tend to focus on their work more than any relationships with friends and family. As a result, these relationships are often strained. Family therapy is, thus, included in the work addiction treatment plan as a significant step to combat it. This therapy helps clients deal with the patterns of workaholism and its effects on their family unity. The counsellor curates a healthy schedule in which work and personal relationships are adequately addressed with equal attention and time.

12-Step Approach

The 12-step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous inspires this therapy curated by Workaholics Anonymous. Workaholics Anonymous is a local support group for treating addiction to work and provides a platform for people to learn how to pace themselves and equip themselves with skills to balance their lives in a closed and private community without compromising on integrity.

Many work addiction rehabs have been established throughout the UK, offering 24-hour support and care to all clients. The safe and supportive environments offered at these centres can be the most effective way to separate your body and mind from the underlying addiction. Additionally, these rehabs offer a comprehensive treatment plan with the help of a multidisciplinary team of therapists and psychiatrists to help clients achieve success. Residential treatment is also offered to people with co-existing mental issues, such as depression or anxiety that might have triggered or worsened their compulsion to work excessively.

To tackle the most severe work addiction cases, inpatient treatment programmes are offered with family interventions and aftercare support lasting months. Daycare and outpatient therapies are also formulated for people with milder forms of addiction. These therapies also serve as a perfect step-down for people who have just finished their residential treatment course.

If you are willing to start working on a healthy relationship with work, we are ready to stand with you every step of the way. Call us today to see which programme best fits your needs.

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