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Similarities and Differences of an Alcoholic and a Workaholic

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    ONE IN THE SAME Due to the many similarities and very few differences, an alcoholic and a workaholic can be considered as being one in the same. According to the medical dictionary a workaholic is defined as “one who has a compulsive and unrelenting need to work” (The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary). Although some people tend to confuse a hard worker for a workaholic, some common characteristics that can distinguish the two are that workaholics are often described as intense, impatient, energetic, competitive, and driven to perfection (Robinson 65).

    They often blur the line between business and pleasure, and prefer work to leisure regardless of the time or place. As a consequence, it is not uncommon for workaholics to suffer from an assortment of health problems and illnesses. Workaholics have a habit of resisting collaborating in the workplace and will likely have trouble delegating tasks, and find it difficult to take vacations or breaks (Spence and Robbins 162). Also, because they have a habit of pushing others as hard as they do themselves, other people tend to find them hard to get along with.

    An Alcoholic is defined as “a person who drinks alcohol substances habitually and to excess” or “a person addicted to alcoholic drinks” (The American Heritage Stedman’s medical dictionary). Usually, but not all the time, an alcoholic will display characteristics such as low self-esteem, anxiety/fear, feelings of guilt, shame and self pity. Alcoholics can be regarded as being impulsive, easily frustrated, and have very low tolerance for negative feedback. An alcoholic also tends to blame others for their problems and they often feel a sense of injustice as if everyone is against them.

    Although their definitions differ, being an alcoholic or a workaholic can affect ones health as well as ones family. Being a workaholic “can affect a family as a whole as well as on an individual level, between specific family members. ” (Shifron and Reysen 140). When boundaries are blurred and work is consistently chosen over vacation or family time, it’s the family and children that ultimately suffer the most. Children of a workaholic parent are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem. They may also eel like they are not a priority in the eyes of their parent and the struggle for parental attention can lead to resentment (Robinson 192). Children within the home of a workaholic parent also tend to take on more responsible roles and may mature at a much faster rate due to the absence of the workaholic parent (192). On an individual level, spouses of workaholics have also been reported as saying that they experience a decrease in positive emotions towards their workaholic partners and also develop a lack of understanding and communication within the relationship that commonly leads to separation or divorce (Shifron and Reysen 140).

    Family members of an alcoholic can suffer both physically, mentally, and emotionally. The erratic behavior of an alcoholic can cause tension and instability within a family unit, in many cases the alcoholic may become abusive towards their family members, and usually the violence is directed at the spouse. In these cases the spouse becomes a victim of verbal or physical abuse and often develops depression and low self-esteem (Staff). The situation will often escalate and end in divorce. Children of alcoholics often become withdrawn and anti-social: This can lead to academic and behavioral problems in school as well as at home.

    Children can also suffer from depression and usually have trouble making friends due to their unstable and often embarrassing family environment. They also tend to lash out at others out of frustrations at home and are more likely to abuse alcohol as they grow older (Rehm 141). Along with affecting family life, being a workaholic can also have effects on health. Exhaustion can occur as a result of over working and sleep deprivation. Work induced stress can lead to health concerns such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (Chuong-Kim).

    Workaholics also have an increased risk of experiencing anxiety attacks, ulcers, burnouts, heart attacks and strokes (Chuong-Kim). The Health assessment of an alcoholic is far worse as they can suffer from a number of health complications and diseases that are associated with alcoholism such as liver disease, alcohol induced pancreatitis, cancer and cardiovascular disease (Rehm136). Not to mention the many types of injuries that be sustained while intoxicated, such as alcohol poisoning, broken limbs, or blackouts (137).

    Once a person health and family life begin to become effected it should trigger an alarm that something is not right. One of the major steps a workaholic must do to help cope with their problem is to first, recognize that they indeed have a problem. A workaholic must be able to see that the real root of all their problems is due to their unwavering need to constantly choose work over family and leisure time. Once a workaholic recognizes and pinpoints the problem the next step would be for them to accept that they have a problem.

    At this point it is likely that the workaholics close friends, family and any others that may be affected come together to express their concerns and provide support to the workaholic through a process called group intervention (Dungan 42). The goal of such an intervention is to be able to break through the denial and emotions felt by the workaholic so that they can believe in themselves and find strength within so that they may begin planning towards a method of recovery. Unlike an alcoholic a workaholic cannot just avoid work and may have trouble reducing work hours because as we all know work is essential to making a living.

    Workaholics recovery differs than that of an alcoholic, rather than quit all together a workaholic must find a proper balance between work and leisure (Robinson). A workaholic must also set firm boundaries between work and life outside of work so they do not over commit themselves. There are also programs that aid in the recovery of workaholism such as Workaholics Anonymous which is a self help program designed to help members stop working compulsively and to carry the message of recovery to workaholics who still suffer. They also utilize the 12 steps of recovery method (Robinson 236).

    Likewise, alcoholics must also come to a point of realization so that they too can begin to accept and acknowledge their addiction to alcohol. To further impact the seriousness of the addiction, an intervention can be staged by loved ones as a plea for the alcoholic to seek help. Unfortunately, an alcoholic’s road to recovery is a long and hard one. Many addicts only make it so far before they succumb to drinking again: This is why professional help by and alcoholic treatment specialist is recommended when treating alcoholism (Staff). Treatment of alcoholism varies depending on the severity of the addiction.

    It can either be done through an outpatient program or by residential inpatient treatment centers that treat detoxification and withdrawal symptoms. The basics of each program typically include establishing a treatment plan and learning skills, psychological counseling, and oral or injected medications (Staff). Support groups also exist and are found to be essential for coping and maintaining sobriety. These groups include Alcoholics Anonymous, a self help program based around the 12 steps of recovery guidelines that suggests how an alcoholic should conduct their life.

    It mainly consists of groups of people that are also recovering from alcoholism (Staff). Al-Anon and Alateen are support groups designed for those who are affected by others alcoholism (Staff). While they are both similarly driven by addiction, the behaviors of an alcoholic and a workaholic both have negative effects on their own lives and their families. However, the physical harm and/or health effects are far more detrimental for an alcoholic, mostly due to organ damage and the inablilty to control one’s self while intoxicated.

    In order to overcome their addiction they both must recognize and face their problem through an intervention and breakthrough. Ultimately they both follow a similar we step recovery program. Works Cited “alcoholic. ” The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 29 Oct. 2012. . Chuong-Kim, Margaret. “How to Identify and Address a workaholic. ” natural health care. Dr. Ben Kim, n. d. Web. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. . Dungan, F. Alvin. “Work Addiction: Cunning, Baffling, And Powerful. ” American Journal Of Pastoral Counseling 8. (2005): 35-45. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. Rehm, Jurgen. “The Risks Associated With Alcohol Use And Alcoholism. ” Alcohol Research & Health 34. 2 (2011): 135-143. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. Robinson, Bryan E. Chained To The Desk : A Guidebook For Workaholics, Their Partners And Children, And The Clinicians Who Treat Them. n. p. : New York University Press, 2007. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 30 Oct. 2012. Shifron, Rachel, and Rebekah R. Reysen. “Workaholism: Addiction To Work. Journal Of Individual Psychology 67. 2 (2011): 136. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. Spence, Janet T. , and Ann S. Robbins. “Workaholism: Definition, Measurement, And Preliminary Results. ” Journal Of Personality Assessment 58. 1 (1992): 160. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Definition. ” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 09 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. “workaholic. ” The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 29 Oct. 2012. .

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