One of the main reasons why addicts suffer in recovery is due to their character flaws. It’s not a big deal, is it? Don’t we all suffer from character flaws of some kind? Well, for an addict, if not addressed, a character defect may bring him/her back to using. For more on relapse, click here.
Yet, addicts are more inclined than most, to behave in ways that are unappealing. This is because they have, what’s called an addictive personality. For more information on this type of personality, take a look at: “Addictive Personality.” At the same time, don’t let this justify the addict’s return to his/her character flaws. But, understand that he/she will need a program and time to learn how to live as others do.
But, once addressed, addicts can be some of the most self-aware individuals on the planet. They have a profound understanding of what makes them tick, and how to unplug the emotional time-bomb. This, we call, taking an inventory. For example, when they get angry at someone, they know that it has something to do with their own defects. In turn, what becomes a handicap makes them even more spiritual than the average Joe. The process brings an addict to a spiritual awakening. For more on this, take a look at this link.
The Character Defects of Addicts The AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) has listed about 194 character flaws. Part of the 12-step program of recovery is for addicts to list their own character defects. We’re not going to list this extensive list here, but focus on the major 13. Below is what these character defects look like:
Active addiction was very much a dishonest game. Not telling the truth or concocting stories about something was the staple of addiction. Dishonesty comes in two forms: Omission and Commission. Omission means that addicts have left out an important detail due to its connection with shameful behaviour. For example, I went out to see my friends. Who those friends were, nobody knows because it’s possible that they are connected to shame and addiction. It’s not falsehood per se; but it’s not the entire truth either. Commission means that the addict tells lies intentionally to hide his/her behaviour. For example, I had a meeting with my doctor, when in actual fact, it was my dealer.
Even in recovery, addicts may still have this trait. It’s the idea that things must be perfect according to how I view it. It comes from control over the things that can’t be controlled. For example, an addict may not like it when his/her boss isn’t punctual or up to the standards he placed on him/her. It’s almost as if the employee was boss instead. Yet, it can be very hypocritical. As he/she expects the most perfect from others, he/she is unable to act in kind.
The reason addicts please others is to get something from them. When this happens, addicts are not themselves, but a reflection of what other people want them to be. For more on the masks addicts wear as a means to cope, click here. The reason for people-pleasing is not a problem until one has forgotten oneself.
Greed Avarice or greed is the desire to have as many material things at the expense of everything else. Part of being an addict is to get whatever I want, whenever I want it. That’s the main reason why addicts could not stop their behaviour or the substance of addiction. But, addiction is not about greed when it becomes addiction. For addiction is a brain dysfunction that has resulted from chronic greed. So, in recovery, letting others have their way is a way of life that needs to be nurtured slowly and carefully.
Apathy / Laziness
The absence of any drive to live or living only for the addiction is the result of apathy. The addict’s extraordinary high from addiction makes life mundane if not intolerably boring. This comes down is called “Anhedonia” or an inability to feel pleasure out of life. Read more about it in our article on: “Anhedonia: The Secret Killer.” But, it is out of this pain that addicts do not have the drive to work at recovery/life. Hence, they are apathetic and lazy. Sometimes, this manifests in procrastinating important work, even in recovery.
Resentment / Hatred
Addicts will have misgivings towards others. They will blame everyone for their problems, except themselves. When this happens, it’s important for addicts to take inventory. To release the hatred and or resentment, it’s necessary to find their own part in it. Resentment is like feeding oneself poison, but expecting the other person to suffer. Unaddressed resentment may boil to hatred and an absence of peace. In recovery, the number one issue is to address all resentments so that peace can reign high.
Anger / Rage
Life is not without its challenges. Addicts like everyone else will come face to face with situations that bring out anger. But, the addicted anger is on the verge of rage. It’s a suffocated stream of angst that needs appropriate treatment. Processing this anger needs to be handled with care and respect. To do this, addicts need to learn the various tools to handle their anger. Mismanaged anger in recovery may lead back to addiction. While in active addiction, anger and rage hides behind every addictive behaviour. It’s important in recovery to accept the anger and rage with patience and humility.
Selfishness and Self-pity
Addicts will at most times, think about themselves. Selfishness will be at the core of much interpersonal relationships. Alongside selfishness, is the sense that they are victimised by others. This is called self-pity.
Pride/Hubris/Arrogance and Envy
Pride/Hubris/Arrogance is the belief that nobody else matters. In this belief, addicts will see their achievements as best and others in the lowliest light. They will choose their friends on those who can best serve their individuated needs. Envy on the other hand, is a bad feeling towards someone else’s success. If another person succeeds, addicts take their success as a sign of their own failings.
Lust and Gluttony
Lust is the unbridled desire for sex and food. Lust can exist when addicts or non-addicts desire someone to the point of objectification. When other people become sex objects. Also, it can exist when one desires food because it’s desirable and not out of nutritional concern. Lust in both aspects will lead to sexual addiction and or eating disorders. Gluttony is the greedy consumption of food. It’s what one has when he/she eats as if there isn’t another meal in the future. Gluttony can lead to many gastrointestinal problems if unaddressed. At the same time, it is the hallmark of eating disorders such as Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Bulimia. For more information on BED, click here.
A Program of Recovery
What’s needed for addicts in active addiction is a program of recovery. Addictions do not just cease from happening because addicts abstain. There is a lot more that needs to go into a program. Learn about recovery and treatment for addiction to know more. Call us, we’re always ready to help the addict in need of a life free from strife. Living with these defects can be history. Seek help now!
Aa List of Character Defects