In instances of addiction, the first step is for the substance abuser to admit they have a problem. What follows is what a friend of mine with experience in the mental health field termed “fearless introspection” – which is their version of a particularly excruciating personal inventory. As they described it to me:
“Fearless introspection is about identifying and then unburdening yourself of unprocessed emotional stimuli, whether it is the result of something you did or something done to you. It requires you to untangle all the lies you tell yourself to get thru the inherent pain of life, and that is an agonizing process. But the reward is finally being able to see reality. Then, as the prayer says, through God’s grace you can summon the courage to change the things you can, the ability to accept the things you can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference. Simply trying to ‘tough it out’ and hope the pain goes away only makes matters – and in cases of substance abuse, the addiction – worse.”
What this friend told me rings true, not merely for individuals, but for a collection of souls known as a nation.