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By Juan J Miret

The Economic Policy Institute, states that the average American is clocking 48 hours of work per week. That is an increase of 6.5 hours per week since 1977.

Americans are working more hours than workers in France (about 39 hours per week) and Germany (about 40 hours per week). But, that is not all. Americans are spending less and less time on leisure, the general average only take one week of vacation, which is less than workers in any other developed country of the planet. For example, Germans workers take an average of six weeks of vacation every year. Amazing, but it is true.

Everyone has met a workaholic at least once. The lawyer who sweats every last detail of very contract. The stockbroker whose heart rate fluctuates with the Dow Jones index. Or the restaurant manager who works every single holiday and has to do whatever is necessary to finish a task, even if that means working 14 hours days, six days a week.

Workaholism is a very serious problem. It is believed by some to be a disease. It is an addiction to work. And this situation may be pleasurable to the victim or it may be burdensome and troubling. The term was first coined in 1971 by Wayne Oats in his book: Confessions of a Workaholic. It gained more widespread use in the 1990s as the result of a wave of the self help movement that centered attention around addictions. The main problem with workaholism is that workaholics believe (they really do!) that if they do not work, the entire universe will collapse.

There are millions of studies about addictions, but only a handful of workaholism. Dr. Brian Robinson, PHD; a professor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has being searching and writing about it for an extensive period of time (maybe he is a workaholic!!). Dr. Robinson has expressed that “overworking is the new cocaine, the problem without a name”. He said that “there is an emotional and neurological payoff for workaholic, because overworking produces an adrenaline rush, which gives the workaholic a special feeling”.

According with Dr. Robinson, there are four major styles of workaholism:

1.- The Bulimic: Either do it perfectly or do not do it at all.
2.- The Relentless: Loves tight deadlines and believes it is better to start things very soon.
3.- The Attention Deficit: These ones get a rush from new ideas and live on the brink of chaos.
4.- The Savoring: This one is methodical and has trouble letting go of projects.

So, if you find yourself in one of these categories, do not panic. There is hope: Workaholics Anonymous!!

Indeed, there is a fellowship of individuals who share their experience with each other, so they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from workaholism. The Workaholics World Service Organization is located a California and can be reached at www.workaholics-anonymous.org. The organization has developed a Twelve Step Recovery Program, in order to rescue many workaholics.

Meanwhile, for those workaholics: Get a time for relaxation, plan a reward for accomplishments, which must include leisure activities. Make time for sports or take an art class just for fun. Fill your spiritual needs. And remember: Your Desk do not have chains!!

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