Workaholic Anonymous – 5 Steps to Stop

Spotting an alcoholic or drug addict is so easy, but have you realized that you could be sitting right next to a workaholic and not notice him or her at all?

Sometimes, we don’t have to look far to discover that we ourselves are addicted to work—somehow the addiction snuck in while we were busy working.

Some people are surprised to hear that work could indeed be addicting. “Oh, there’s nothing like working too much,” or “Me? I am just working hard! Isn’t it the right thing?”

Does this sound familiar? If you find yourself repeatedly saying this, it’s one of the confirmatory signs that you are addicted to work.


Workaholic: Been there, done that

Well, if you are wondering what makes me write about workaholics with so much conviction, then hear this: I’ve been there, done that.

Yes, I used to be a confirmed workaholic, and was quite proud of it until a few days ago. But the good news is that I have come to regain my senses, and am already working my way back to getting my life together. Believe me, it’s rather easier said than done.

It took me a lot of fortitude and resolution to steer clear of this menace. It seems I’ve come full circle—from being a round-the-clock running, overworked gal to being a composed and blissful smart worker.

How to Stop Being a Workaholic

By now, I am sure you are desperate to know how I got “un-addicted”. Let’s get started, shall we?

#1 Acceptance

I was adamant and unrelenting when my family pestered me to work less and live more. Not my fault actually, I really could not see the point in their talk. “Hey, I am not getting high on alcohol and am not doing any drugs,” used to be my usual rebuttal.

It took a severe illness to drill some sense into me. I had been working non-stop for more than 17 hours a day and totally neglecting my health. There was a nagging pain in my abdomen, but fitting in an appointment with the doctor into my hectic schedule was totally unimaginable.

Finally one night, I collapsed over my work desk and the next thing I could remember was lying in the hospital bed. My investigation reports showed multiple kidney stones, fatty liver and hypertension.

Both my doctor and my family accused my work-addiction to be the cause for this problem. Finally, I accepted the fact and here I am writing this article to save others from falling into the same dark pit. It’s too dark and cold in there folks, so watch out!

If you want to fight something, the solution is not to fight it. Yes. I am serious.

First and foremost: Accept the fact that you are indeed addicted to your work and recognize the fact that it’s neither healthy nor normal.

#2 Evaluation

As soon as I realized I was in a dark pit, I decided to evaluate my situation. Well, it definitely was the hardest part—something like drawing blood out of my veins. But I had to do it, and here’s what I did to get a better idea about the situation.

I used a pencil and paper. Yes, was my harness, along with me determination of course.

I jotted down all the pros and cons of working relentlessly. Simple technique, but quite effective in clearing the muddle in your mind.

Needless to say, my pros were just minuscule when compared to the cons. Yeah; I sure was losing out on my life, my family and my health. To put it in plain words, I was terrified of the mess I had placed myself in.

#3 Endurance

Getting over the evaluation phase was like getting over the most difficult part. I had already recognized my enemy and was looking him straight in the eye. I needed the strength to fight back not by resisting, but by allowing and accepting. I had to stay at it.

Contrary to what you think, this was genuinely the easiest part for me. I promised myself not to dump little me back into the dark hole again in my life. Each time I felt a little weak, I read through the list of pros and cons. It sure worked like magic on me. The cons’ list was quite long and terrifying.

#4 Action

There was no more time to waste. Now was the time to spring in to inspired action. Gradually, I started weaning myself off from the extra work. I made it a point to walk away from my desk as soon as it was 5 pm. Once I was home, the only “work” I did was to spend time talking to my family and enjoying every bit of it.

To be honest, this phase was pretty bumpy. Imagine the piled work that welcomed me each morning. The pile even seemed to grow an inch every day.

Yet, in no time, I was deducting 3-5 hours of work from my daily schedule, and that sure made a huge difference.


#5 Delegation

We all have only two hands and one brain each. Is it not dumb to expect two hands to do the work of 10? I possibly could not let my problem come in the way of my career, so instead of working hard I just decided to work smart.

Delegation was tough at first, because I strongly doubted if others could do the job well. But my doctor’s counsel of cutting back on stress and work was the only help I needed to get over this momentary phase of doubt. I started delegating the right tasks to the right people and discovered a new skill altogether.

Conclusion: Workaholic Pit

We all need to work hard and many a times we are forced to work beyond routine office timings. Working overtime once in a while is not going to make you a work-addict, but do not make it a habit.

I have succeeded in overpowering the work monster. I am learning new skills and developing abilities with each day. Oh, and the monster? It is now down in that dark pit, waiting for the next victim. I am sure that I will have nothing to do with it again.

How do you fight the addiction and stop being a workaholic?

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Dr Kavita is a versatile writer who enjoys writing on varied topics. Despite being a Doctor by profession, she professes that writing is her first love.


  1. Sying on the 16th May

    Another point I use to keep me on track is reminding myself who will be there for me if something happens. My family and closest friends are the ones who will be there for me, not the company I work for. If I become incapacitated who will care for me? So I make it a point to spend quality time with my friends and family.

  2. Kim on the 16th May

    Agree. Someone once said “Show me a workaholic, and I’ll show you a person who hates them self.” Sobering words that highlight a reality that for some (used to be me), emerging themselves into an overloaded work pattern provides a legitimate escape/excuse from having to address other issues in their life. Finding a work-life balance that helps you put the important things first and identifying the reasons we go to work, in our own minds, can help too.

  3. Shovan on the 16th May

    Exactly what I wanted to motivate me to stop becoming a workaholic,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kavaita


  4. Marlon The Cubicle Weller on the 17th May

    I’ve seen people with this disease. Ok, they don’t call it that. Any kind of addiction is bad. Unfortunately, some companies pushes employees to addiction. I’ve heard about money incentives to encourage people to work more and deliver “more results and value”.

    Money is one of motivators of human. Its our bell in the world of Pavlov – we hear “”money” and we salivate because that means nicer cars, bigger house, grand vacation, etc.

    The next thing you know, you’re already addicted to work 🙁

  5. Claude Betancourt on the 17th May

    Come on, work never killed anyone. Most likely those kidney stones came from having too much soda/coffee and not enough water.

    I’m most productive when I work at home where I work longer hours, but more short breaks and better food than at the office. While I no longer work 12 hours a day in the office, I do side work and schedule my work day around my personal/family activities so no one is shortchanged.

  6. Connie Lee on the 27th May

    As a recovered work-aholic I agree that life is much more rewarding and rich, from the other side of the fence.

    Years ago, I had an ephiphany I’d like to share because itclarified for me what really matters in Life.

    I’ve never known anyone to say, ‘Gee, I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ while they’re lying on their death bed.

    This builds upon the comment Sying shared, ‘Another point I use to keep me on track is reminding myself who will be there for me if something happens.’

    Any addiction is an addiction. It takes a commitment to set boundaries and stick to it. It’s about re-learning how to live.

  7. Daquan Wright on the 7th June

    “Come on, work never killed anyone. Most likely those kidney stones came from having too much soda/coffee and not enough water.”‘

    Middle aged Japanese business men would die because they were overworked (read that in a Japanese book to learn about their culture). Work is stress, and even if work can’t kill you, stress can (among MANY other ailments). If you’re not alleviating stress, you’re setting yourself up in a bad way.

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