Workaholism can be defined as a condition where individuals experience an emotionally crippling compulsion to work, which is usually driven by the need to either gain approval or the public recognition of success. People who can be classified as workaholics tend to have a myopic fixation with an ambitious objective or accomplishment. They jump from one assignment to another and trying to meet their self- imposed demands. In this effort, they lose sight of their ability to regulate their work habits and tend to overindulge in their work. They dwell excessively on work related issues and bring them home with themselves as well. This comes at the expense of other social activities and has detrimental consequences on their physical and emotional wellbeing.
It is unfortunate that this form of addiction has not received its due share of attention owing to the fact that its seriousness is often underestimated. The gravity of the problem is not comprehended mainly because it takes a comparatively lesser emotional and physical toll on people than a disorder such as drug addiction does. However, a compulsive pattern of behavior towards work can also cause dysfunctionalities in personal, occupational and social domains, much like substance addiction. Another reason why the issue of workaholic has failed to capture attention as a serious problem is because it is slightly difficult to differentiate between a genuine compulsion to overwork and a passion towards one’s occupation. The lines between the two can appear blurry, but it is usually the far reaching dysfunctionality caused by an unhealthy compulsion to work that serves as the differentiating factor. While a hard worker manages to strike a healthy balance between his work and personal responsibilities, the workaholic remains caught up in the struggle to achieve one accomplishment after another. This causes the workaholic to be emotionally absent towards his friends and family while having negative repercussions for his social life as well. If the problem is not addressed in a timely manner, workaholism can lead towards the development of more serious physical and psychological ailments.
In view of the hazards that accompany the problem of compulsive overworking, it is imperative to look at it as a serious issue that demands structured psychological intervention. Treatment for workaholism firstly addresses the ambivalence that surrounds their problem. This is usually because they can simultaneously find reasons for both changing their behaviors and persisting with them. Much like the treatment of other forms of addictive behaviors, it is crucial to raise the problem awareness of the workaholics. They need to be made aware of the deep seated consequences that have been brought on by their addictive tendency towards work. The realization can help them work towards achieving a balance between their personal and professional lives. As people suffering from the problem of workaholism tend to neglect the importance of relaxation and socialization, proactively incorporating activities in their life that allow time for them, serves as another effective means of defeating their addiction. It allows them to reconnect with an important part of their lives that they had been overlooking. The treatment strategies that we adopt for dealing with workaholism usually focuses on the following principles:
- Improving the workaholic’s awareness regarding his problem in order to facilitate the therapeutic process.
- Focusing on establishing realistic and attainable goals rather than chasing lofty objectives.
- Emphasizing directly on the behavior of engaging in excessive work apart from addressing the consequences brought on by it.
- Introducing alternative activities in the client’s routine that allow time for relaxation.