Skip to content

Look Out for Addiction to Work

man on couch working

Today, work or how you make a living is one of the things American culture values. Men especially are told that they are their work, while women try to balance their ambition with their family goals. Any work problems and goals may cause self-esteem issues for people who are ambitious. Addiction to work is common among people in recovery as well as others who are not.

In recovery, there is sometimes a complicated relationship with work. If you’re still in a career you love, you may feel you have to make up for time lost to addiction. Other people in recovery choose to start new jobs or careers. Either way, there is often a feeling of “not being good enough” when a person in recovery returns to the workplace. This is one gateway to addiction to work.

Overworking or working more than forty hours a week on a regular basis can cause you problems in your recovery. You need to remember to focus on yourself and working your program.

Why Do You Need Work-Life Balance?

As a person in recovery, a work/life balance is important. Without your sobriety, you won’t be able to keep a job or excel in your career for long, anyway. In early recovery, you will still be working on personal issues and relationships.  Working too much or all the time can harm your progress immensely and keep your focus away from your recovery, which can lead to relapse.

Working an assigned set of hours and keeping to those hours only can be the solution to balance in some industries such as hospitality. However, some people who work in office settings allow themselves to be tethered to their jobs through devices, checking email on their days off or working every day of the week.

Working more than 40 hours a week is the standard because more hours are simply unhealthy for your body. Your mind and spirit also need a break to spend time nurturing your relationships, going to 12-step meetings, and getting the proper amount of sleep.

Addiction to Work is a Real Thing

Working too much can be an addiction. If you’re using work to distract yourself from your friends, family, and home life, that’s a problem. Avoiding something doesn’t make it go away, and overworking yourself can cause you a lot of stress. You may work so much you forget to eat, sleep or hydrate properly. You may find yourself canceling important events like watching your kid at a play or going to a family get together. Putting your work before your recovery can cause you problems.

All of the same behaviors – such as lying, manipulating, and avoiding life on life’s terms can start to emerge when you’re using work as an escape from life. You may make excuses to work when you don't need to. You may sacrifice relationships or responsibilities to spend more time working.

Working like this isolates you. You may forget some of your recovery basics or feel triggered to use your drug of choice because work stresses you out.

Addiction to work can be serious, but it is treatable just like any addiction. First, admit you're powerless. Ask for help from somebody you trust in recovery.

Staying Focused on Recovery

Staying focused on recovery can help you keep a healthy work-life balance. If you’re already “in too deep” you may need help moderating the amount of time you work and sticking to a structured schedule. Addiction to work can be stopped in its tracks if you commit to putting your recovery first in your life again.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you find yourself working as an escape. It’s not uncommon for people in recovery to pick up a new addiction.

Just recognize it for what it is, and reach out to your sponsor and others who can help you reclaim a balance on your work versus home life. You’re powerless over your addiction, but you’re responsible for your recovery. It’s okay to ask for help reclaiming your free time if your work life is getting out of hand.

Consider Sober Living

Many people in early recovery want a healthy transition when they’re going back to the “real world”. Sober living homes offer a place of safety and support. Sober Living San Diego offers structure, security and sobriety tools for residents making their way through their recovery journey. Learn more about what we offer at 760-216-2077.

Long-term treatment takes an addicted person out of their normal environment to allow them to concentrate on themselves. When a person in recovery returns home, there is a lot of responsibility waiting for them. Bills, expenses, and debt that may have piled up during active addiction are a few things that might wait for you if you’re coming home from treatment. All of these things require you to get a job and/or resume a work life when you’re ready and able. How can you make sure that your job or career don’t overwhelm you?

Combating Stress

One of the most common themes among people in recovery who return to work is learning to cope with stress. Many workplaces, especially on the West Coast, are high-paced and come with a good amount of stress. You can manage this! Jobs are always going to have stress, so it’s up to you to learn how to cope.

Learning self-care is important in early recovery, and using to combat stress is important. This means you may need to go for a long walk during your lunch break, or head out to surf while the sun is still up and you’re done with your day. Other forms of self-care include taking a long bath, learning to meditate or practicing breathing exercises. Breathing exercises and meditation are both things you can use throughout your day. Youtube has a lot of great videos when it comes to learning these coping techniques, but you might ask a counselor or peer what works for them.

Keeping a Good Attitude

Having a good attitude is a key to success in the work world and beyond. If you’re in your feelings at work, make sure to take time out to say the serenity prayer or write a gratitude list. Think of five things you’re grateful for each day, whether you’re happy about quick commute, a good lunch, or the empathy of coworkers.

If work begins stressing you out, talk to your sponsor or share at a meeting. Plan your meetings before or after work to help you deal with the stressful times.

Getting More Support

Sober living and aftercare programs can help you transition back to everyday life, giving you the extra support you need while making decisions about your future and strengthening your recovery. Get in touch to learn more about your options by calling us at 760-216-2011.

Inner Page Form 2