Workaholic AND Alcoholic? It May Happen More Than You Think

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Workaholic AND Alcoholic? It May Happen More Than You Think

According to Psychology Today, workaholism is “a soul-destroying addiction that changes people’s personality and the values they live by.” Experts estimate that workaholism may affect as many as 10% of American workers. It is often associated with domestic conflicts, sleep disturbances, mental and physical health ailments, and an overall dissatisfaction with life.

But there’s more – according to researchers from New Zealand, working more than 50 hours per week makes young adults 2-3 time more likely to experience problems related to alcohol use.

Researchers conducted a study consisting of more than 1,000 participants, each aged between 25-30. The findings revealed that longer work hours were linked to increased rates of problems related to alcohol use, including more frequent use and higher rates of alcoholism.

Workaholism is a condition characterized by multiple elements. One, workaholics have an obsessive need to work. Two, they anticipate that said work will result in compensation (not volunteerism.) Three, they expect that work will decrease negative feelings. Four, they exhibit perfectionism as a type of neurosis.


workaholic and alcoholic | Just Believe RecoverySo how is it exactly that alcoholism and workaholism are related?

Well, there are a number of possibilities. Both workaholism and alcoholism are characterized as compulsive desires. Both result in a specific reward (be it monetary or substance-related.) Both are used to self-medicate or reduce negative thoughts and emotions. Moreover,  I believe that the workaholic and alcoholic share some personality traits in common.

This finding is interesting in that alcoholism is also typically associated with reduced or poor work performance. Perhaps it is, that being young adults, these persons are not as affected mentally and physically by alcohol use as older adults would be.

It could also be that the workaholic compulsion drives them to ride out their day, even if they are feeling hungover or out-of-sorts. It’s rather puzzling – both outcomes make sense. Moreover, there is a correlation between work compulsion and alcohol use, and also a correlation between poor work performance and alcohol use.

It’s hard to understand why. Maybe the workaholic-alcoholic IS affected performance-wise by alcohol use, and work performance could be improved or extended even further without the other addiction.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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