Not all addictions that impact the workplace are drug related. Whenever the word “addiction” comes up, most people automatically mentally conjure images of a person sticking a needle into a vein and getting high on some drug. While it’s true that the word is most closely associated with drugs, ingesting a substance is not the only way one can become an addict.
Like the one that involves drugs, these non-drug addictions can inflict as much havoc on one’s health, relationships, finances, and of course, work. Here are some of the addictions that may not involve drug use, but impact the workplace just the same. Interestingly, one of these non-drug addictions might come as a huge surprise, especially in relation to the workplace.
To most people, a little gambling can be a fun activity. A weekend trip to a casino with a group of friends, for example, can be a good way of blowing off some steam and having fun. The problem is when gambling becomes something that you’re compelled to do on a regular basis, regardless of whether you win or lose. When a person starts risking everything just to be able to make a bet, you can be sure that that person is already addicted to gambling.
Like drug addicts, gambling addicts get a high out of their habit. Playing games of chance gives them such a rush that they have to do it over and over again. When they are unable to gamble, they often feel anxious or even depressed. And when they are able to gamble but are a little short on cash, they resort to borrowing money, selling belongings and even stealing just to get their gambling fix.
A gambling addict is also likely to neglect family, friends and their work. Calling in sick just to be able to sneak into casinos or racetracks is typical behaviour for a gambling addict. Workers addicted to gambling can also cause trouble at work when they start borrowing from colleagues or trying to sell belongings to them. A gambling addict desperate for more cash to bet might also steal at work, whether from colleagues or the company itself.
There is nothing wrong with viewing erotic material per se. Some do it for personal enjoyment, while others use it as a way to spice up their sex lives. However, when a person reads or views pornography and other sexually-themed material out of an ever-growing compulsion, then that person is suffering from porn addiction.
A porn addict typically amasses huge collections of porn. Check out a porn addict’s computer, and you are likely to find gigabytes upon gigabytes of pornographic videos downloaded from the Internet. Apart from spending a lot of money in acquiring all that porn, a porn addict also spends a lot of time viewing them. Even when they’re not viewing porn, they are likely to devote a significant part of their waking lives running those pornographic images in their head. More often than not, a porn addict also plans and looks forward to the next time they can view porn.
A worker who is addicted to porn is also likely to view porn using computers at work. Even when the workplace forbid it, a porn-addicted employee will find ways to access pornographic websites and the like.
We are all supposed to eat to live. Some people, however, live to eat. They have this very unhealthy obsession with food that goes beyond getting nourishment or just enjoying a nice meal. For a food addict, life revolves around food, which is what they think about for a significant part of their day.
Even when they’re not hungry, food addicts compulsively and obsessively crave for and eat food. Some continue to eat even when their brain is telling them they’re already full. Many food addicts also turn to food as a means of dealing with stress or sadness.
One huge problem with food addiction is the toll it can take on one’s health. Food addicts are likely to crave food with high amounts of sugar, fat, or salt. Eating too much of these can lead to a host of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and arthritis, among other things. With the many illnesses associated with food addiction, those who are suffering from it are more likely to use up a lot of sick days. With all those absences, productivity takes a dive.
Video game addiction
Video games are, by design, addictive. Play one and you’re likely to spend hours trying to make it to the next level. Video game addicts, however, take their obsession with video games to a whole new level.
There have been reports of people dying after playing video games for days on end. Without a doubt, those people are video game addicts, who tend to forget to eat, drink, sleep or even just get off their stations and stand up for a few minutes just to get their blood flow going normally. Like a drug addict, a person suffering from video gaming addiction may neglect hygiene, loved ones, school and work.
A gaming addict may not also be the most productive employee. An employed gaming addict will find ways to be able to sneak in a game or two while at work, or researching game strategies instead of your company’s client sentiment.
Mobile gadgets with their vast proliferation are possibly the most dangerous. Especially for gaming addicts who work in a factory or a construction site. This adds a new dimension to the dangers of video game addiction. Imagine a gaming addict who works as a crane operator get distracted by a mobile game while at work. A workplace accident becomes more likely to happen, and that puts the health and safety of everyone at work in danger.
This is an addiction that would, for some people, seem out of place in the workplace. After all, having “workaholics” in one’s employ can only be a good thing for the company, right? While there’s nothing wrong with working hard, working hard to the point where it is all a person ever wants to do and think about, it’s already obsessive-compulsive behaviour that could lead to some adverse consequences.
People suffering from work addiction typically don’t have a sense of balance in their lives. Their whole lives revolve around work. Relationships and other aspects of their lives suffer because of their pressing need to work practically every hour of every day. When they’re away from it, work addicts think of nothing but all the unfinished tasks, and often count the hours to the day they return to work.
This inability to relax takes a toll on a work addict’s health. When all they think about is work, they are likely to be unable to get good sleep. Once at work, the obsessive need to hurry and get things done often makes them skip meals. Exercise is also a casualty, because work addicts are not likely to think they have the time for it. All this contribute to poor health, and poor health can take a serious toll on one’s productivity and effectiveness at work.
For most people, sex is the best way of intimately connecting with your partner. Some, however, have sex not to be intimate, but to get a rush, deal with stress, or distract themselves from the realities of life. These people also tend to have repeated sexual affairs with as many partners as they can get. In a work environment this kind of obsession can be extremely disruptive and potentially devastating to staff morale and turnover.
Many might find the idea of sex addiction ridiculous. After all, sex is the most natural thing in the world. What’s not natural is obsessively thinking about it every waking minute. For a sex addict, sex is everything, and he or she will do anything to satisfy that need. Some solicit the services of prostitutes on a regular basis. Others engage in voyeurism and exhibitionism. Then there are those who regularly turn to porn and masturbation when no partner is available just so the obsessive need for sex is fulfilled.
So many things can go wrong in a person’s life when he or she is addicted to sex. For one, sex addiction wrecks marriages or partnerships. It could also bleed into the workplace and cause a plethora of problems. Internet porn use at work, sexual harassment of colleagues, and in some extreme cases, sexual assault are just some of the possible problems that sex addiction can bring to the workplace.
The benefits of exercise are manifold. Overdoing it, however, does more harm than good. Those who over exercise without any regard for its consequences is an exercise addict.
People who are addicted to exercise are compulsive exercisers. Nothing and no one can stop them from engaging in their favourite physical activity. Exercise addicts who love to run, for example, won’t be deterred by rain, sleet or snow. They’ll even try to work out through sicknesses and injuries. If 30 minutes of exercise is the norm, then they’ll spend three hours in the gym. When they don’t get to exercise, they feel depressed. Some may even feel guilty.
As with all other addictions, exercise addicts typically choose exercise over everything else in their lives. They’d rather exercise than spend time with loved ones. Skipping school or work becomes a habit. One huge problem about over-exercising in relation to the workplace is that it makes one more prone to injuries. That means they have to take time off work to heal. Even when uninjured, exercise addicts tend to suffer sore muscles all over, and that gets in the way of the performance of their job.
Sugar is not a drug, but it might as well be. New research out of Queensland University of Technology is suggesting that consuming sugar is similar to taking drugs. And considering how prevalent sugar is in our daily lives, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that most of us are already sugar addicts, and we don’t even realise it.
The QUT study reveals that there are rather disturbing similarities between the two, especially in the way it changes the layout of our brain cells. Like drugs, sugar triggers the release of dopamine in our brain, which of course gives off a pleasurable feeling. Eventually, those dopamine levels drop, especially after long-term sugar consumption. So what do we do? Find more sugar to consume, just like a drug addict desperate for another hit.
As we all know, sugar is a major contributor to obesity and consequently, the health issues that come along with it. An employee with a sugar addiction is likely to take more sick days because of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, among other things. A sugar addict is also more likely to suffer from joint pain as elevated sugar levels can increase the inflammation that causes joint pain. This would make manual tasks at work difficult and dangerous, especially when the job involves the operation of heavy machinery.
Potentially All Addictions Impact The Workplace
All the addictions listed in this article fall under behavioural addictions, and their consequences on one’s life are just as damaging as those that involve drug use. Fortunately, like drug and alcohol addiction, behavioural addictions are very much treatable. There are a number of options available to those suffering from a behavioural addiction. They can seek help from a professional therapist, or join support groups or 12-step programs.
As an employer you have a vested interest in creating a culture that deals effectively with all kinds of addictions that impact the workplace.