Let’s start by making it clear; we are not implying that workaholics are alcoholics or vise-versa. We are focusing on the similarities between the two and shedding light on why some people in recovery find themselves substituting addictions. We all know there are many benefits from hard work, but when we leave out the critical “work-life” balance and cross the line into workaholism, the profits on a personal level can be quickly negated. Sometimes, people in recovery choose to bury themselves in work rather than going through the challenge of working the 12-steps and embodying real changes in thinking and lifestyle. Simply put, replacing an addiction is a softer easier way than recovering from one. Today, more and more professionals in the field of recovery are taking a closer look at the parallels between alcoholism and workaholism.
Disconnected from Your Feelings
Just like drinking and drugging, a workaholic disconnects from their feelings, the feelings of others, and the self-examination needed to address the underlying issues that leave them feeling unfulfilled. Unlike alcoholism, whose social ramifications are often negative, the prospective results from workaholism include increased wealth, influence, and peer respect which is praised by our society — however, the personal effects of both “isms” mirror one another. Just as the glass of “liquid courage” reduces inhibitions for the alcoholic, the standing ovation and promotion produce a moment of gratification for the workaholic. The “morning-after” feelings of confusion and irritability are the same for both as the inner voice attests to the everpresent abyss of emptiness that still exists. So, it’s on to another party or another project, depending on the “ism.”
Why choose this treadmill?
Addressing the root cause of addiction takes time, effort, and often requires the skills of a professional. It’s akin to peeling an onion as the addict examins the layers of their life to identify and heal the driving forces behind their dysfunctional behavior. One of the hallmarks of all addicts is a feeling of shame, which is not to be confused with feeling ashamed. The later reflects a sense of guilt that may be appropriate. The former, shame, refers to a feeling of something being intrinsically wrong with the person, which is not appropriate. Our actions can make us feel ashamed; changing those actions remedies this feeling. A feeling of shame leaves no exit strategy. It implies that you are what’s wrong, not your behavior. Thus, an underlying sense of hopelessness resides within the addict fueling their dysfunctional behaviors.
Physics 101 teaches us that friction causes wear on any machine, wastes energy and increase inefficiency. The friction of unresolved issues prompting dysfunctional addictive behaviors wears on the body of the addict and the relationships in their lives. The energy required to maintain an active campaign of denial to the world and yourself is highly inefficient as well. A clean, sober, and satisfying life that addresses challenges, weeps in times of sorrow, and reveres moments of joy, is indeed a life worth living. And those, my friends, are the essence of recovery and why it’s worth getting off the treadmill.