1. Human characteristics, which fall short of the societal norm. While most people have shortcomings, for the alcoholic, they can fester and be fatal if not addressed forthrightly in recovery. As alcoholics, we have spent years simultaneously ignoring and compounding our shortcomings with drink and drugs. 2. We have found that when we come to AA, we discover many shortcomings, or character defects, which we tried to hide from ourselves by using alcohol. Alcohol was, in this case, a symptom of our problems.