Character Defects and Addiction

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Character Defects and Addiction

15 May, 2020Articles, News

What are character defects?

Character defects are generally known as flaws, shortcomings or deficiencies that are found within a person who suffers from addiction. Although there is much debate around the fact that addicts and alcoholics choose to use drugs or alcohol, the main issue here is, the defects of character are what makes an addict or alcoholic continue to abuse their preferred substance. Character defects are usually the source of a person acting irresponsibly and in that process, creating suffering for themselves and others. A list of defects can include dishonesty, selfishness, self-centeredness, inconsideration and many more. Character defects can apply to any person, not just to addicts and alcoholics. No human is perfect.

What is the reasoning behind an addict acting out on defects of character?

There are many reasons that an addict or alcoholic may act out on their defects of character. Someone who is drunk may get emotionally or physically aggressive while drinking or an addict may lie or manipulate in order to enable their addiction. Many addicts and alcoholics act out on defects because of their own fears and insecurities and this leads to an endless trail of destruction and chaos. Most defects are acted on, in order to meet the persons needs. This can be explained by Carl Rogers’ 19 propositions where the needs of an individual shape their behaviour in order to satisfy those needs. This is true of addicts and alcoholics in active addiction.

What happens if the behaviour continues?

When an addict or alcoholic continues acting out on their defects of character, it usually leaves a trail of consequences and results in them feeling isolated, alone, and afraid. These consequences may include- financial, strained relationships, lost friendships, jails, institutions etc., etc.. Character defects are usually developed through experiences with others, which also forms part of Carl Rogers’ theory of the 19 propositions. We develop our character through experiences with others and the world around us. Our character is usually based on our goals and values. In active addiction we frequently lose sight of those goals and values. How do we change all of this?

Removing our shortcomings

Once the addict or alcoholic has asked for help, they then enter into a treatment programme or programme of recovery. It is stated in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, that we first need to complete a moral inventory of ourselves in order to identify our defects of character. Only then are we able to honestly look at ourselves and identify our part in a situation. When we take responsibility for this, we are able to see where we have been wrong. This happens in step 4 and 5 of the 12 steps of AA. In step 6, we become willing for our higher power to remove our defects of character. In creating the awareness around our defects of character in the previous steps, we try now to look at how to replace them with spiritual principles instead so that when we act out on our defects, we chose to do more good than harm and work on improving ourselves on a daily basis.

Dominique Le Claire Rossouw

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