Everyone will work more than forty hours a week at some point in their lives, and every so often, there will be a project that requires extra time and effort. However, a work addiction is far more serious and compulsive than spending a few extra hours in the office every once in a while. Work addiction is characterized by a compulsive, obsessive need to spend extra time at work. If this sounds like you, it might be time to seek professional help.
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ABOUT WORK ADDICTION
Work addiction is a type of process addiction (also referred to as a "behavioural addiction"). An individual with a process addiction is addicted to certain behaviours or processes that alter their mood. This is not substance abuse, although it can be just as addictive and just as detrimental to one's health. Individuals suffering from a work addiction will compulsively work and will be unable to relax or slow down. Their work-life balance is often non-existent, as the addict's personal life constantly comes after their professional life. A work addict will commonly be unable to set boundaries or limits.
Work addicts' identities are in their work and they will often use work as a way of coping with the uncertainties in life. Characterized as having low self-esteem, work addicts will frequently give in to authority figures, and are constantly looking to these same authority figures for approval. Addicts are unable to distance themselves from work and are known to obsess about work when they're not at the office.
Work addiction has three stages: early, middle and late. The early stage is most treatable, and the late stage is when the addict's physical health is deteriorating.
TREATMENT OF WORK ADDICTION
Treatment begins by identifying the level of addiction. This is identified using the Bergen scale, where physical tests and interviews are conducted. While outpatient rehabilitation is most common, there are instances where inpatient rehabilitation is required. For example, addicts in the late stage of addiction whose physical health has deteriorated, and those who are suffering from depression, anxiety or extreme fatigue might be referred to inpatient treatment. Addicts will need to spend days, or even weeks, away from work in order to recover. How long an addict stays away from work will depend on the severity of the addiction. Treatment also requires withdrawal counselling and group therapy.
POST REHABILITATION OF WORK ADDICTION
After rehabilitation, be it inpatient or outpatient, the addict will continue to undergo therapy and counselling in order to prevent a relapse. The addict will also learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation, that they can use to help them slow down. Social skills training, assertiveness training and learning to problem-solve are all part of the post rehabilitation process. Recovering involves changing the addict's outlook and attitudes; it is important for the addict to learn that work is just one part of their life. During this time, counselling will also be advised in order to rebuild any relationships harmed due to the addiction.
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