Principle 8: Overhauling our character traits
The addiction is often a sign that we are missing some of the most basic principles of what it means to be a human being, created in the image of Hashem. Even animals don’t abuse their desires and fall into addictions. In these areas, we have fallen even lower than animals.
Although it may be hard to admit this, the emotional maturity of an addict can often be at the level of a two year old. When we don’t get what we want, we feel like crying, kicking and screaming. We never learned how to deal properly with pain, anxiety, resentment, stress or anger. We have always used the addiction to hide inside ourselves, and we refrained from mature emotional interaction with others. While our peers were growing up and learning about life from the world around them, we were zoning out into our fantasy worlds of self-pleasure and escape. And so we often remained as emotionally immature as a little child.
In order to really begin to heal at the source, we must learn the most basic moral principles again from scratch. Fundamentals such as rigorous honesty in all our affairs, an honest personal accounting, complete trust in Hashem, true humility, and a sincere willingness to make amends with those we have harmed, and to surrender our will to Hashem. These principles are so basic, that even the non-Jewish drunks of AA are able to relate to them, and by working through a program of these principles (The 12-Steps) they often succeed in turning their entire lives around and becoming “Men of G-d.” Besides for step 1, the 12-Steps don’t even mention the addiction (drinking, acting out or whatever the addiction may be). The steps are all about learning how to think right and to live right.