Idris Elba is one of our most beloved Hollywood stars who stays booked, but it looks like the success came at a cost.
In a recent interview, the Luther actor shared he’d spent a year in rehab for work addiction. He told Annie Macmanus’ during her Changes podcast that “I’m an absolute workaholic and that isn’t great for life generally. Nothing that’s too extreme is good, everything needs balance, but I’m rewarded massively to be a workaholic.”
Between running multiple businesses, shooting movies and a hit show, he shared that he didn’t have a grasp on balancing his career and his personal life. “I could work 10 days on a film, underwater sequences holding my breath for six minutes, and come back and sit in [my home recording studio] and [feel relaxed], more so than sitting on the sofa with the family, which is bad, right?” he shared during the podcast. “This is the part where I’ve got to normalise what makes me relaxed. It can’t all be work.”
He isn’t alone.
Rates of burnout are at an all-time high, with more than half (59%) of American workers sharing they’re experiencing at least moderate levels of burnout, per a 2023 study from Aflac. This is a marked increase over 2021 (52%) and on par with the levels reported in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burnout is defined by HelpGuide.com as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
Although similar, work addiction is a bit different.
The National Institutes Of Health defines it as a condition, often referred to as “workaholism,” in which the person (called a “workaholic”) feels driven or compelled to work, often because feeling guilty while not working.
Like Elba explained, he felt his identity was intrinsically linked to the amount of work he could take on. With the absence of it, he runs the risk of falling into an existential crisis.
Experts say there’s a way to beat the addiction if you’re showing signs of being adversely affected.
“The fact is, work addiction is an addiction,” Psychotherapist Bryan Robinson explained to the Atlassian. “That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless; it’s just important to be realistic. The first step – as cliché as it sounds – is to recognize that there is a problem. If you’re unable to break your addiction on your own, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about the best way to move forward. There are both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs that can help manage your compulsive behaviors, though not everyone will need to go that route.”
He added: “That said, a mental health assessment can be beneficial, especially if you haven’t checked up on your mental health in a while.”
He also advises to dig deep on why work is so critically important (finances aside).
“It is important to understand why you overwork,” Robinson told the outlet. “Once you understand the causes, you can develop a way forward. Create new habits and routines, identify the stressors that trigger your compulsions, and re-evaluate your expectations of success.”