"And G‑d said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb and two peoples shall diverge from your belly; and one nation will struggle against the other…'"—Genesis 25:23.

In this week's portion, the matriarch Rebecca conceives and – not knowing that she is pregnant with twins – asks G‑d to tell her why her pregnancy is causing her so much pain. She discovers that not only is she carrying two babies, but that they are actually battling within her. Her sons, Jacob and Esau, are rivals who are destined to continuously struggle from inside the womb, throughout their lives and into the annals of history.

The fate of Jacob and Esau is such that they cannot both exert power at the same time. Each one's strength is derived only from the weakening of the other. As tradition relates, "They will never be equal. When one rises, the other will fall."

Not only within Rebecca, but in all of us, these two twins struggle...In spiritual terms, Jacob and Esau represent two diametrically-opposed inclinations in man: his desire to serve G‑d and his desire to serve himself. Jacob represents spirituality, humility and meekness—while Esau represents physicality, arrogance and aggression. Not only within Rebecca, but in all of us, these two twins struggle, always vying for control over the other.

As alcoholics and addicts, we are no strangers to the dynamic of this conflict.

We may view our disease as having its own personality, an internal addict that values selfishness and gratification. It wants to control our lives so that we pursue only its desires. It is the older twin, big and strong, a hunter and an outlaw. Then there is a part of us that wants to be closer to G‑d and live a life of usefulness. This is the younger, softer brother who is quiet, peaceful and loving. These two 'twins' cannot both be in charge at the same time. Neither can they share or divvy up control so as to coexist on equal footing. There is no possibility of compromise. Each one can only strengthen itself at the direct expense of the other.

Like the image of a seesaw, if one end is rising, then the other must be going down. At any given moment, the addict inside may push itself up over our spiritual self; or, conversely, our spirituality comes to the fore through the quelling and repressing of our disease for another little while. But one thing is certain: both cannot happen at once.

As one old-timer put it, "Ask yourself at this moment, 'Are you working towards or away from a drink?'"

Or, as it's also been said: "When I'm not working on my recovery, I'm working on my relapse."

A mystical tradition tells us that even if one completely reforms himself and exerts perfect control over his negative impulses for the rest of his life, his internal Esau will never go away. To the contrary, even when kept in perfect and constant check, not only does it not leave—but, just by our maintaining our bodily needs, the animalistic and selfish side unavoidably grows stronger every day.

Experts in addiction tell us that our disease progresses even during sobrietyIt comes as no wonder, then, that the experts in addiction tell us that our disease progresses even during sobriety. Many alcoholics have served as unfortunate examples to it. When our disease is allowed to gain control to the point of taking a drink, then our illness doesn't just pick up where it had left off. It reveals that it has developed throughout its dormancy, growing stronger as it bides its time awaiting its return.

Our only choice is to exert constant control. Our disease will never compromise with us, nor will it just go away. It doesn't atrophy. It doesn't get tired of trying. But, thankfully, G‑d has given each of us the ability to stay one step – or hopefully many steps – ahead. It is our relationship with G‑d that is the key to outrunning, outlasting and overpowering our internal addict—one day at a time.

Thus, when it comes to spiritual growth, we must renew our commitment daily with refreshed intensity and vigor. We must remain ever vigilant. We can settle for no less than a goal of complete domination of all aspects of our lives.

Does this sound extreme or intense? It is—because our disease is. And on this count, we cannot afford to be outdone.