What is the number one cause of alcoholism. Difference between Alcoholic and Workaholic, Difference Between

Difference between Alcoholic and Workaholic

Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are the most common forms of addiction. Workaholism, as an addiction is still less talked of. Studies indicate that nearly 10% of the total working population in the US are workaholics and for those who work for more than 50 hours a week, the chances of growing alcohol abuse is quite high. What is the cause of alcoholism.

On the other hand research on alcoholism by the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that there are almost 140 million alcoholics in the world and most of them are untreated

The term “workaholism” is actually the combination of the two words “work” and “alcoholic” and was first used in 1947 in Toronto Daily Star in Canada

Apart from the similarity in names, alcoholism and workaholism have quite a few things in common.

Both the conditions are equally stressful for the person having it as well as his surroundings. It damages relationships, friendship and family life.

Physical and psychological breakdown is common for both workaholics and alcoholics. Physical problems include nervous system damage, heart problems among many others, psychological issues include depression, anxiety and mood disorders.

There is a common pattern of negative thoughts in alcoholics and workaholics that provokes the negative behaviour.

There are common warning signs of alcoholism and workaholism like withdrawal from real life, feeling uneasy in the absence of work/alcohol, remarkable changes in behaviour that never existed before, ignoring family and friends, and many other.

The links between these two types of addiction has been a well talked issue, however, there are many distinct areas where workaholics differ from alcoholics.

Main difference between alcoholics and workaholics

The first and obvious one is there is no “drug” or “substance” involved in making a person workaholic. The discomforting urge to excel at work, or a self imposed pressure to meet all the professional goals are enough to call someone a “workaholic”. Not only do workaholics spend extra hours at work, they are always engrossed in work related thoughts to an extent that they overlook all other aspects of their life. Other than that, there are several issues that can be considered in discussing how an alcoholic is different from a workaholic.

The health hazards —, By health hazards, I mean both the physical and mental health hazards here. The physiological effects associated with any substance abuse is massive. Especially for alcoholics, the detriment is enormous. The uncontrollable desire for alcohol leads to compulsive drinking which affects the

Reduces the secretion of sex hormones

Cause liver problems and diabetes

Gastrointestinal troubles

Heart diseases like cardiomyopathy

The damage is not limited to the body. Prolonged dependence on alcohol leads to chronic depression. Alcoholics find it comforting to depend on alcohol in the face of any stressful event. The level of comfort keeps increasing with increasing the amount of alcohol they consume daily and eventually it reaches a stage where it is beyond the person’s control to restrict it.

What is the biological cause of alcohol abuse and alcoholism

Workaholics, on the other hand, are at a lesser risk of developing such huge physical problems. Depression is common in workaholics as well, but more than the consequence, depression is often the reason for workaholism. Many people divert their mind into work to avoid life stresses like loss of someone close, divorce or relationship stress. The mental hazards are more for workaholics. They commonly suffer from

Acute sleep disturbances

Behaviour changes —, There are stark behaviour patterns alcoholics exhibit. Alcoholism nurtures behaviours like

Abusing people at home and work

Lying —, alcoholics are common to grow pathological lying habits. They can even mislead their health professionals (for those who seek medical help)

Taking financial debts and not returning

Binge drinking –, including drinking in the morning, or at work

Experiencing tremors and anxiety while doing an important work. Alcoholics even lose their writing skills owing to the nervous breakdown

Alcoholics have a marked deterioration in their work performance

The behavioural changes in workaholics are deep rooted and cause emotional distress to the person as well as his surroundings. The common behaviours that workaholics show include

Walking, talking and eating quicker than others

Working for extra hours without a deadline to meet

Emotional withdrawal from all pleasurable activities and an excessive urge to gain success at work

Complete withdrawal from social life

Genetic predisposition —, The role of genes has been proved for alcoholics. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has stated that alcoholism may pass through genes. The offspring of an alcohol abuser is more at the risk of developing alcoholism than someone with no known family history of alcoholism. The genetic influence is so strong in alcoholism that almost half of the alcoholics have been found to have family history of AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder).

What causes alcoholic encephalopathy

Workaholism, on the other hand has not yet been established as a specific psychological condition in the DSM or ICD

. It is a combination of different psychological factors that together contribute to make a person a workaholics. The role of gene in workaholism is yet to be asserted.

Treatment —, There are three stages in the treatment of alcoholism.

Stage 1 –, Detoxification:- where the main aim is to reduce the urge of drinking and eventually cut down on the quantity of alcohol consumption. It involves medicines mainly that creates painful withdrawal symptoms in alcoholics.

Stage 2 –, Rehabilitation:- where the negative thoughts and behaviours related to alcoholism is modified taking psychotherapy and counselling as the tools.

Stage 3 –, Maintenance :- the final stage where the positive changes are sustained to prevent the person from becoming an alcoholic again.

Treatment for workaholics is more often a combination of different psychotherapeutic methods than medicinal treatment.

Behaviour modification,

Relaxation and Meditation

Supportive counselling.

Workaholics rarely go through a physically painful treatment procedure and the recovery is also sooner than alcoholics. However, individuals sometimes may require medicines for specific conditions like depression or insomnia that is triggered due to the work addiction.

Prognosis —, The prognosis of alcoholism is poor and the treatment is equally hazardous for the person suffering as well as his family. The biggest criteria for treating alcoholics is to ensure that they are willing to recover, if the individual is unwilling to recover, there is not much hope even in case of early diagnosis. The mortality rate in alcoholism is hard to establish as it indirectly causes many other illness.

The prognosis of workaholics is better than alcoholics. Guiding workaholics to find the “balance” can help them draw the line between work and life. Mortality rate related to workaholism is not very common. The problems that workaholics suffer (depression, insomnia, stress, etc.) can mostly be modified by psychotherapy. Even if medical help is needed, it does not create withdrawal symptoms like other forms of addictions.

The following comparative chart briefs out the differences discussed above:-

The first step in getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. Knowing where to draw the line is the main issue when talking about any addiction and their management. Be that for drinking alcohol or working, we must know where to stop.

What are the cause of alcoholism

Appreciate your efforts and do not be harsh on yourself.

If you have a problem, talk about it rather than escaping it through work.

Know yourself and your capabilities. Set goal accordingly.

Relax and take out time for family and friends.

Keep a check on the amount of alcohol consumption.

Never hesitate from seeking medical help.

Abstain from falling prey to other drugs.

Join mutual support groups to discuss and get better insight of the problem.

As mentioned earlier, addiction can be managed by the person himself if he is willing to.

One must remember, addiction is just a way of adapting (the negative way). People can always choose to adapt in the healthier way and live a life free from menace —, that is the best road to recovery for any addiction.


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Madhuleena Roychowdhury. "Difference between Alcoholic and Workaholic." DifferenceBetween.net. July 24, 2017

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Written by: Madhuleena Roychowdhury. and updated on July 24, 2017 Articles on are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

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