Principle 9: Why religion alone isn’t always enough
Although all truths can be found in the Torah, we had lost our vision. Even though we may have been learning Torah and Mussar, we were wearing “broken eye glasses.” And so, before we can turn once again to the Torah for guidance, we need to first learn what it means to be a human being. Can someone learn Mussar Sefarim before he knows Alef-Beis?
The 12 Steps & 12 Traditions (p.p. 31-32) discuss why even religious people who always believed they had faith in G-d and had asked G-d for help countless times in the past, were still unable to break free from the grip of the addiction:
This answer has to do with the quality of faith rather than its quantity. This has been our blind spot. We supposed we had humility when really we hadn't. We supposed we had been serious about religious practices when, upon honest appraisal, we found we had been only superficial. Or, going to the other extreme, we had wallowed in emotionalism and had mistaken it for true religious feeling. In both cases, we had been asking something for nothing. The fact was, we really hadn't cleaned house so that the grace of G-d could enter us and expel the obsession. In no deep or meaningful sense had we ever taken stock of ourselves, made amends to those we had harmed, or freely given to any other human being without any demand for reward. We had not even prayed rightly. We had always said, “Grant me my wishes” instead of “Your will be done.” At no time had we asked what G-d's will was for us; instead we had been telling Him what it ought to be. The love of G-d and man we understood not at all. Therefore we remained self-deceived, and so incapable of receiving enough grace to restore us to sanity. Belief (in G-d) meant reliance. In A.A, we saw the fruits of this belief: men and women spared from alcohol's final catastrophe. We saw them meet and transcend their other pains and trials. We saw them calmly accept impossible situations, seeking neither to run nor to recriminate. This was not only faith; it was faith that worked under all conditions.
As one addict (on our forum) explained the term “Cleaning House” that is used often in AA:
It is important to realize that our real problem is the pain in our lives that makes us vulnerable to addiction. Addiction is the self-medication for the problem, and not the problem itself. This pain is caused by a "wall" in our relationship with Hashem and in our relationships with many other people in our lives. To remove that pain, we have to remove the walls. The walls are not as we had always thought, i.e. the things Hashem has done to us, or the things that others have done to us, but in reality, the walls are made up of our character defects that we have injected into those relationships. And the only way to stop the pain, is to make a true cheshbon hanefesh (personal accounting) on those character defects, accept that we need Hashem to remove the defects from us, and ask Him to do so. Then, and only then, can we begin to repair our character defects with honesty, so that they no longer act as a wall in our relationships (both human and Divine).