Lately, your spouse has been complaining about the long hours you're putting in at work. Maybe you really want that promotion, or perhaps you just don't trust anyone else to get the job done. Whatever the reason, you've been glued to your desk for weeks, and your personal relationships are starting to suffer.

If this sounds familiar, chances are you're a workaholic. And while your boss may appreciate your valiant efforts, like all addictions, an obsession with your job could compromise your home and family life. In addition, experts warn that workaholics are at greater risk for on-the-job stress, career burnout, and a range of health problems, including sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, anxiety, and depression.

Spotting the Signs of a Workaholic

Wondering whether you're consumed by your job? If you answer yes to three or more of the following questions, you may have a problem, according to Workaholics Anonymous (WA).

1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
2. Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can't?
3. Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
4. Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
5. Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
6. Do you turn your hobbies into moneymaking ventures?
7. Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
8. Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
9. Do you take on extra work because you're concerned that it won't get done otherwise?
10. Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
11. Do you believe that it's okay to work long hours if you love what you're doing?
12. Do you get impatient with people who have priorities other than work?
13. Are you afraid that if you don't work hard, you'll lose your job or be a failure?
14. Is the future a constant worry for you, even when things are going well?
15. Do you do everything energetically and competitively, including play?
16. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work so you can do something else?
17. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
18. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep, or when others are talking?
19. Do you work or read during meals?
20. Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?

Addiction or Epidemic?

If you are a workaholic, you're not alone. A United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) study indicates that workaholism is increasingly becoming part of our national identity. In 2001, Americans worked an average of 1,978 hours, up from 1,942 hours (almost a full week of work) in 1990.

What's more, the ILO study found that Americans are working longer hours than their counterparts in other countries. The average Australian, Canadian, Japanese, or Mexican worker was on the job approximately 100 hours, or two-and-a-half weeks, less than the average American in 2001.

In addition, many experts believe that new technologies, such as BlackBerries and cell phones, are only contributing to the problem. By allowing workers to stay connected to the office 24/7, they may encourage people to think that workaholism is normal because there's simply no "off switch".

9 Ways to Break the Cycle

Workaholism may be a socially acceptable addiction, but experts warn that it's still a serious addiction that can compromise your health and quality of life. To get on the road to recovery, WA recommends the following tips.


  • Listen. Be sure to set aside some "me time" every day for reflection, prayer, or mediation.
  • Prioritize. Instead of tackling everything at once, decide what's most important, and address that first.
  • Substitute. Don't add new activities to your schedule without removing an existing "to-do" that demands similar time and attention.
  • Underschedule. Assume that activities will take longer than you think so you can accommodate unforeseen setbacks.
  • Play. Schedule time for leisure activities you enjoy, rather than dedicating every spare moment to your job.
  • Concentrate. Avoid the trap of multitasking by focusing on only one task at a time.
  • Pace yourself. Work at a comfortable pace, rest before you get tired, and don't allow yourself to be pressured or rushed.
  • Seek out support. Speak with a doctor or therapist about your addiction. You may also find it helpful to attend WA meetings to get share your experiences and get support.
  • · Live in the now. Try to appreciate and enjoy every momentespecially your time off.