Few things are as American as the idea that work is a virtue. Unfortunately, the line between virtue and pathological behavior can sometimes be blurred. Though “workaholism” (or ergomania, as it’s known by mental health experts) is not recognized as an illness in and of itself, it is linked with a variety of mental health problems, including substance use disorder (SUD).1,2
Here we’ll lay out some key points regarding the relationship between ergomania and SUD, as well as other mental health conditions that commonly co-occur with and contribute to it. Contact our team at Boston Drug Treatment Centers to learn more about options in New England for treating SUD and co-occurring psychiatric issues.
Overwork is a common coping mechanism for mental health conditions linked to SUD, notably anxiety, depression, and trauma. People with these and related conditions may turn to work as a reaction to emotional distress. This same emotional distress may also trigger substance misuse in many individuals.1,2,4
There is little corroborating evidence that ergomania is a stand-alone condition that directly contributes to substance misuse.3 However, it is clear that people who have ergomania are also at risk from misusing substances, particularly those with depressant qualities like alcohol, sedatives, cannabis, and opioids. These individuals may also use stimulants to get out of a “depressed state” caused by exhaustion.3,4
Some specific reasons individuals who overwork turn to substance include the following:
Ergomania is related to but not the same as “working hard”. The main difference is that hard workers are better able to compartmentalize work and personal life while “workaholics” tend to bring work home with them, either mentally or in a more real sense.1
People with ergomania who also have SUD may have some unique problems that are not present in many other people with SUD.
Ergomania may be an indicator of more serious problems. If you feel that you or someone close to you has an issue with both overworking and substance misuse, there is a possibility the two phenomena may be related. Call our team at (857) 577-8193 to find options for holistic SUD treatment in Massachusetts that may address the causes of both.
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