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Let Your Defects of Character Go: Steps Six & Seven

One doesn’t become an addict overnight. Although there can be biological or genetic components to the development of an addiction, there is also a cumulative nature to the disease, which means that it requires a confluence of factors in order to develop. For some, this can mean having grown up exposed to substance abuse or being in a peer group with other substance abusers.

Others choose to abuse substance for one reason or another, which often includes self-medicating due to stress, anxiety, or a preexisting condition. However it occurs, the disease of addiction is comprehensive and affects every aspect of an individual’s life, from career prospects to financial stability to physical health and even one’s familial and social life.

Recovery from addiction is both possible and attainable, but the unfortunate reality is that there’s no single cure-all treatment or medication that can rid people of this encompassing affliction. When an individual chooses to begin the process of recovery, one must consider the various symptoms and effects that he or she is experiencing due to alcoholism or drug addiction, selecting the methods of recovery that can address those specific rehabilitative needs.

While many of achieved success by completing addiction treatment programs at rehab facilities, Alcoholics Anonymous and its numerous derivative groups remain a mainstay of the recovery scene, having helped millions of individuals—many of whom had tried other methods and treatments with no success—to achieve lasting sobriety with the twelve-step method.

Beginning with acceptance and admission of powerlessness to the all-consuming disease of addiction, individuals progress through each of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which are intended to serve as a roadmap for physical and spiritual recovery with each step building upon an individual’s success in working the previous ones.

Moreover, each of the Twelve Steps addresses a particular stage of recovery that is an integral part of the overall process, picking up where acceptance of powerless left off and including things like taking a moral inventory of character defects. With each step, individuals get closer and closer to a place of comprehensive recovery, but it’s essential for one to work through each step completely before continuing to the next.

The Sixth Step: Ready to Let Go of Character Defects

By the Sixth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, individuals have accepted powerlessness to addiction and established the conviction of wanting to change; moreover, the individual knows that life as an addict had become unmanageable and that change is not only wanted, but needed. After taking a moral inventory of defects of character—which include negative feelings, past behaviors, wrongs committed against others, and other roadblocks to recovery—the individual admits those defects to oneself, others, and the higher power of his or her understanding, which leads into the Sixth Step.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous literature, the Sixth Step is the natural next step after the Fifth with individuals becoming ready and willing to let go of one’s defects of character. In particular, the Sixth Step has individuals become “ready for God [or the power of one’s understanding] to remove all [one’s] defects of character.”

In essence, this represents an attitude or state-of-mind one should adopt at this point in the twelve-step recovery process, being a point in which the individual not only recognizes the faults that served to reinforce the addiction, but also the point in which the individual is ready to let go of those faults and beseeching the higher power of his or her understanding for the ability to do so.

Moreover, becoming ready for a higher power to remove one’s defects of character means to recognize that there is a power greater than oneself; however, unlike the power of addiction, it is a power that can create positive change in the form of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.

The Seventh Step: Asking One’s Higher Power to Remove Defects of Character

Whereas the Sixth Step entails being ready for one’s higher power to remove defects of character, the Seventh Step involves actually appealing to that higher power so that the removal of character defects can happen. In the words of Alcoholics Anonymous literature, individuals working the Seventh Step must “humbly ask God [or the power of one’s understanding] to remove [their] shortcomings.” This step is incredibly important for a number of reasons.

For instance, there is the importance of actions speaking louder than words; whereas previous steps were internalized and involved acceptance and readiness, the Seventh Step involves an actual appeal to a higher power, humbly asking not for the will to let go of one’s flaws, but for the higher power to actually remove them.

Another important component of the Seventh Step is the humility involved in asking one’s higher power to rid them of their defects of character. As mentioned, it entails the recognition that the individual is trying to derive strength from a power that is greater than both the self and the power of addiction. In essence, it’s about transferring the role of governing power over one’s life from the disease of addiction to the higher power of one’s understanding, appealing to that power to rid the individual of those flaws that have previously kept him or her in the throes of addiction.

There’s also a level of symbolism involved in wanting the immediate removal of character defects. In a culture that values a more continuous self-improvement process—such as dieting and exercise for a slow improvement of one’s physical appearance and health—the Seventh Step advocates for an immediate release of one’s flaws and vices rather than the individual taking the time to simply “work on” the problems that contributed to the addiction.

No matter which road an individual takes to get to a place of recovery, there will always be that point in time when the individual who had been a substance abuser never imbibed alcohol or drugs ever again. It’s a sudden cessation rather than a slow taper. In the Seventh Step, individuals are not asking for help to improve themselves, but rather are asking for the strength to immediately eliminate their flaws and vices, making this an integral part of the recovery process.

Learn More About Your Recovery Options with Drug Treatment Center Finder

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous may seem daunting, but they are strategically designed to deliver individuals to a place of comprehensive health and recovery. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to learn more about twelve-step recovery or other treatment methods, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help individuals find the treatments they need to regain their health, sobriety, and lives of happiness and fulfillment. Don’t wait—call us today.