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Everyone—not just alcoholics and addicts—has at least one character defect. After all, no one is perfect, and certainly not addicts and alcoholics either. What 449 Recovery drug and alcohol treatment center has found is that, even with long-term clean/sober time, those defects of character are something we always deal with.

Character Defects: How They Work

We ask God to remove our character defects, but the twist is that He usually does so on His time. So what do we do in the meantime?

There are many who opt to indulge in these character defects, under the assumption that one day, God will magically say, “Defect, be gone!” and the addict or alcoholic doesn’t have to deal with it any longer.

It doesn’t work that way. If we actively engage in—and especially if we still enjoy—these defects of character, then the likelihood of them being removed diminishes significantly. However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. Instead, it will just come with a lot more pain, much in the same way our drinking and using careers ended.

Because drugs and alcohol are just symptoms of addiction, it is incredibly easy for us to focus that addiction elsewhere. Some might see that as a good thing, but addiction is addiction. It just means your life will become unmanageable through a different means.

Sex, work, games, chores, reading, you name it…all of our character defects can send us right back into the throes of addiction and alcoholism if we choose to indulge in them. The Big Book of AA describes it as “instincts gone awry” when speaking of the Fourth Step, and that is exactly what they are. On their own, in the control of normal men and women, these things are fine, but anything taken to excess can be harmful, no matter how benign it may seem.

Instead, we hope and pray that we do better with these defects of character on a daily basis. No one is completely relieved of all these character defects—unless new ones are replacing them. The Big Book emphasizes that we look for progress, not perfection.

Especially as addicts and alcoholics, many of us throw up our arms and say, “What’s the point?” if these character defects aren’t removed quickly, completely, and painlessly. The point is that we do better than we did the day before, and we mend these bridges and personal relationships we damaged over time. Something is better than nothing, regardless of how little it may seem. Remember, it is far easier to destroy something in a day than it is to build something. Although it goes against every instinct we have, we have to trust the group, our sponsor, and our Higher Power(s) that this is indeed the right path to follow.

Clearly, the paths we chose didn’t work.

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