Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began in 1935, and since then there have been many variations of 12-step meetings. Today, there is Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and more. However, there are also 12-step meetings for those who have a dual diagnosis, meaning the presence of both an addiction and a mental illness. If you have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder as well as a psychological illness, perhaps Dual Recovery Anonymous can help.
Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA) was created like any other 12-step meeting – to build a community of people who struggle with the same issue so that they could support one another. DRA is “an independent, nonprofessional, Twelve step, self-help membership organization for people with a dual diagnosis” – according to their website. The group has only two requirements of new members:
- A desire to stop using alcohol and drugs
- A desire to manage the emotional or psychiatric illness in a healthy way
And just like other 12-step meetings, there are no other requirements but a willingness to heal. That is first and foremost. Participation, attendance, and doing the work of recovery are also important but seem to follow suit when someone is ready for recovery.
Along these lines, DRA suggests the following principles for someone ready, willing, and able:
- I will be free of alcohol and other drugs.
- I will follow a healthy plan to manage my emotional or psychological illness.
- I will practice the 12-steps to the best of my ability.
These are the commitments that DRA asks of all their members. Of course, by working the program, there are other benefits that a member might experience. The primary benefit is community. Research has shown that having a community of sober-minded people around can facilitate sobriety in a person. By hearing the experiences of others, people find their own strength, hope, and determination to stay sober. Over time, as relationships develop in the group, members learn to solve problems together and help each other recover from both their addiction and their mental illness.
Another great benefit of DRA is the 12-step structure they use. Studies on addiction and recovery have shown that the 12-steps as well as a supportive community has greatly facilitated sobriety in millions of men and women around the world. The combination of having structure, a guideline of recovery that has worked, a community of sober people, and the commitment to stay sober all work in one’s favor. It is precisely the reason why AA and other 12-step communities have been so successful – including DRA.
If you’re looking for a DRA meeting in your neighborhood, use the DRA online site. From there, look on the left side of the page for “Find a Meeting”. There you’ll be directed to a page that lists countries and states in alphabetical order on the right side of the page. Follow the appropriate link to find a meeting in your area.
If you believe you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, contact a mental health provider for professional support. DRA won’t provide you with professional assistance, but it can be an additional tool to manage your psychological symptoms and sobriety.
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