Workaholism and Alcoholism Have More in Common Than We Thought
Tom wasn’t sure if he drank so much because of work, or if he worked so much to keep himself from drinking more.
Tom’s not the only one caught up in a web or workaholism and alcoholism. The two often go hand in hand.
Partners in Addiction
If you struggle with a combination of an addiction to work and an addiction to alcohol, you aren’t alone. The two are often found dancing together. Researchers found those of us who work 50+ hours per week are two to three times more likely to have an alcohol problem compared to those with no job.
The question is what’s driving us to drudgery and drink? On the one hand, crazy hours at work can be stressful. Some of us turn to alcohol to take the edge off our work-related grind. On the other hand, we may dive into work to resist the urge to drink.
Recovering alcoholics often fall into this pattern. But at the end of the day, it’s simply trading one addiction for another – and that’s not a sustainable in recovery.
If we look at the patterns and effects of workaholism and alcoholism, we quickly see some interesting similarities.
- It has become a prominent part of your life
- It’s used for mood alteration
- It continues to increase over time
- You feel bad if you don’t do it
- It results in relational conflict
- If you try to cut back, you find that you can’t
- It causes health problems
Which of the two addictions does this list describe? Having a hard time deciding?
That’s the point.
Just as alcoholism takes over a person’s life and results in relationship issues, health problems, withdrawal, and relapse concerns – so does workaholism.
Break the Egg, Cook the Chicken
Are you finding that you stopped drinking only to drown yourself in work instead? This probably means you didn’t deal with the issues that drove you to alcohol in the first place. When we replace our addictions, we may be in recovery from one, but we haven’t really recovered.
If we never get to the root issues, we’ll simply keep shuffling addictions. Or, we may pile them on – like when we work more hours and then drink to cope with the stress.
If you or your loved one are caught in this cycle, there’s hope. The good news about the similarities is that proven effective treatments can be used for both. Whichever addiction was first ultimately won’t matter. What matters is getting help. Wherever it began – the chicken-egg cycle simply needs to end.
Recommended workaholism treatments include Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, positive psychology (emphasizing strengths) and Workaholics Anonymous. These counseling and 12-step methods are the same techniques often used to treat alcoholism. They can help you make changes that allow you to cope with underlying issues and create healthier patterns of behavior.