Dr. Aaron's Blog

Workaholics Anonymous

June 30, 2015 Addiction, Naturopathic Medicine, Nutrition, Recovery coaching, Vitamin Therapy by Aaron Van Gaver

Continuing with the theme of non-substance addictions, addiction to money, work, and material goods.  I mentioned in my last post the importance of recognizing addictions are not about the object of addiction but the behavior – the dependence  and impact on daily life. In a National Post article,  What W. Brett Wilson learned from his addiction to work and material things, W. Brett Wilson discusses his experience with addiction.  He was addicted to his work and material things.  This is not an obvious addiction – there is no ‘material addicts anonymous’, however, this does not mean that the same destructive behavior that we associate with addiction to alcohol or drugs does not exist.  This is also not to say that anyone who works hard and is devoted to their job is an addict.  There is a line where motivation and desire to do well may plummet into a place where all other aspects of life are unimportant including family and self-care. This is an interesting addiction because unlike substance addiction where there is a physiological and chemical change, this does not have any obvious negative impact the body.  Being addicted to work may even be perceived as positive!  The term workaholic is often tossed around humorously. In the article, Brett mentions the intense shame that surrounds this type of situation. It is incredibly humbling for individuals suffering in this way to come forward and seek help. Imagine the difficulty in getting help to work on a behavior that is negatively impacting life but has no obvious negative side effects  – no potential for liver damage or brain damage and no visible withdrawal symptoms… no profuse sweating, or nausea.  To top it off, we live in a society where hard-work and dedication are admired.  Imagine being at the top of the business world and realizing that your inattention to family and preoccupation with all the material goods at the expense of self and family was not to be encouraged –  that you are addicted and your behaviors are not productive, but destructive! Realizing the negative cycle is a step in the right direction, but anyone working through an addiction requires support. Yes, the desire for change must come from within, but external support from family, friends, counselors, social workers, and doctors, is vital for recovery.  In the National Post article, Brett candidly shares how negatively his behavior impacted his family, especially his children.

Treatment is also different as the counseling and emotional component outweigh the physiological dependence.  As a naturopathic doctor I utilize intravenous vitamin therapies and neurotransmitter and hormonal rebalancing in addition to working on the emotional level through recovery coaching with my patients overcoming addiction.