Dealing With Character Defects in Recovery - Garden State Treatment Center

Whether we care to admit it or not, we all have character defects. And sometimes, they can ruin or stand in the way of things that would otherwise be positive in our lives, overcoming addiction being one of them. So that everyone is on the same page, character defects are imperfections in how someone thinks or behaves. Examples of these defects can include the following:

  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Selfishness
  • Defensiveness
  • Being closed-minded
  • Codependence
  • Being judgmental
  • Self-loathing
  • Being overly critical or overly apologetic
  • Perfectionism
  • Resentment
  • Arrogance
  • Dishonesty

These examples do not encompass every possible character defect that can negatively impact someone’s life. But they are among the ones that make it exceedingly difficult for some individuals to break the cycle of addiction, especially when it comes to certain substance use disorders (SUDs).

Character Defects

The Truth About Character Defects and the Struggles To Achieve Sobriety

Trying to put one’s life back together after having had it upended by addiction is no small task, and character defects only add to the challenge. And this is because they can significantly increase the risk of relapse. Most of the roughly 40% to 60% of individuals who relapse while still in rehab do so because they struggle with codependence, self-loathing, anger, and a wide range of other character defects. With some substances, the relapse rate is well over 60% because of these defects. According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), the relapse rate for some of the more commonly abused substances in the U.S. are as follows:

  • Heroin use disorders 78.2%
  • Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) 68.4%
  • Cocaine use disorders 61.9%
  • Methamphetamine use disorders 52.2%

While temptation, drug cravings, and peer pressure are responsible for most relapse cases, character defects can sometimes also be a factor. They can also contribute to the denial that stops people from admitting they have a substance abuse problem and seeking the help they need to overcome it. Studies show only 10% of the nearly 23 million people in the U.S. with a substance abuse problem seek treatment. For the remaining 90% who do not, character defects partly explain why.

Mental Illness and Character Defects Are Not the Same

With mental health issues being raised more and more frequently on social media and mainstream media, some people have started to confuse character defects with mental illness and vice versa. While the two might share some similarities, they are certainly not the same animal. According to a MedlinePlus article, mental illnesses are mental health conditions officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) and not merely a personality or character trait. Examples of mental illnesses recognized in the DSM-5 include the following:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychotic disorders

The article further notes that mental illnesses, also known as mental health disorders, are usually a byproduct of genetics, chronic diseases, and biological factors. They seldom appear from out of nowhere; there is usually a cause and effect. None of this applies to character defects, which can exist without anything contributing to their existence.

Identifying Character Defects and Working Through Them While Going Through an Addiction Recovery Program

Resolving some problems in life requires employing a multipronged approach. Addiction recovery is no exception. Mindful of this, most rehab facilities offer a variety of addiction recovery programs to help individuals regain control over their lives. For someone struggling with physical addiction alone, such programs might include medication-assisted detox followed by addiction counseling and a referral to a sober living home or a support group. If someone has a co-occurring disorder or a stand-alone mental illness, the journey toward addiction recovery might look quite different. The same is true if someone has a character defect that makes quitting drugs or alcohol especially difficult.

Addiction Recovery for Individuals With a Substance Abuse Problem Coupled With a Co-occurring or Stand-alone Mental Illness

When someone struggling with a substance abuse problem coupled with a co-occurring or stand-alone mental illness goes to rehab, a lot of work goes into helping them overcome the psychological aspects of addiction. Some might argue that, aside from detox, this is the hardest part of breaking the cycle of addiction. And this is because individuals are forced to confront and finally deal with many of the same traumas that led to them abusing drugs or alcohol in the first place. This part of their journey to sobriety involves counseling sessions with a licensed therapist. These sessions typically include one or more of the following psychotherapy modalities:

When paired with other addiction recovery treatments, such as medication-assisted detox and addiction education, these psychotherapy modalities can improve one’s chances of achieving long-term sobriety quite a bit.

Addiction Recovery for Individuals With Character Defects: How a 12-Step Program Can Help

Because some character defects can make some individuals more susceptible to relapse, many rehab facilities refer those individuals to support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). In either of these referral programs, individuals can join a 12-step program that helps them identify their specific character defects and learn more about how they might have negatively impacted friends and loved ones.

They also learn to recognize character defects and the behaviors associated with them as problematic rather than just personality quirks. And it does not end there. Whether an individual goes to AA or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), they participate in activities that force them to take a long hard look at how their character defects or shortcomings led them down the path of addiction and how to avoid those pitfalls in the future. One of those activities is making a list of what they believe are their faults, weaknesses, and challenges and then making a second list explaining how they think those shortcomings influence their behavior.

Additional Ways To Deal With Character Defects Commonly Associated With Addiction

While professional addiction recovery treatments and support groups can help most people get and stay clean, they might not be enough for some. But all hope is not lost; there are things they can do to combat character defects that could send them spiraling toward relapse, some of which include

Meditating – Few things can silence ruminating thoughts, cravings, and thoughts of acting out as meditating can. Studies show individuals who meditate for a few minutes each day better appreciate how the mind impacts thoughts and behavior. Meditating also makes it easier to identify self-destructive habits and patterns, which tend to go hand in hand with addiction.

Journaling – Even though the process is old-fashioned and the progress is slow, journaling is an excellent way to control character defects before they give rise to maladaptive behaviors, including addiction. Doing so can also provide a sense of accomplishment whenever someone looks back at the positive and negative entries they made in their journal and know the best is yet to come.

Character defects are part of the human experience. And like co-occurring and stand-alone orders, they can make becoming addicted easy and overcoming addiction hard. Fortunately, there is no shortage of treatments that can help individuals who want to quit drugs or alcohol and are dealing with such defects. To learn more about these treatments, including the ones detailed in this article, consider speaking with a Garden State Treatment Center associate today.

Published on: 2022-12-30
Updated on: 2024-05-24