Don’t shoot–I’m working as fast as I can! Workaholics are like alcoholics–only the ones who have recovered talk about it. One of them calls this “the best-dressed problem of the 21st century.”

With a shortage of jobs, workers who are still employed are running in place. Bryan Robinson says, “I used work to defend myself against unwelcome emotional states–to modulate anxiety, sadness, and frustration the way a pothead uses dope and an alcoholic uses booze.” Now Robinson tries to help other workaholics, but in a society that places high value on work and lauds individuals for their strong work ethic, getting workaholism recognized as a real, dangerous problem has been an uphill battle.

One problem is that it’s portrayed as a virtue. “I continue to be appalled at how society, and the media in particular, continues to extol workaholism,” Robinson says. “There’s still this notion that it’s a good thing. In my private practice I see people fall apart, their children are miserable. True workaholism within the context of the family is a devastating problem to everyone concerned.”

How to tell if you’re a workaholic? Robinson says it’s simple: The hard worker sits at his desk, dreaming about being on the ski slopes, while the workaholic is on the ski slopes dreaming about getting back to work.

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