With the right support we can and do recover. Dual Diagnosis Network can help you and carers to find the right resources to recover.
DRA is an independent, non-profit, non-professional self-help organization. DRA was established to help men and women who experience a dual disorder. A dual disorder occurs when an individual is affected by both chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness.
The primary purpose of DRA is to help one another achieve dual recovery, to prevent relapse, and to carry the message of recovery to others who experience a dual disorder. The DRA program is based on the principles of the Twelve Steps and the personal experiences of men and women in dual recovery.
In 1993 educational materials that describe the DRA began being published and produced.
That same year the DRA Central Service Office was established. In 1997 the DRA Newsletter began publishing quarterly issues.
That same year DRA also went on the internet.
P.O. Box 8107, Prairie Village, Kansas, 66208
Toll Free 1-877-883-2332
The Central Office was established in 1993. It was originally based in Prairie Village, Kansas. The purpose of the Central Office is to respond to requests for information about DRA and offer assistance to men and women who would like to form DRA groups. DRAWS CO is the source of meeting start-up packets and information for members and friends of DRA.
DRAWS CO and The DRA Online Resource Center continually update the international DRA Directory of meetings.
In 1997, DRA members in Santa Cruz, California, began publishing the quarterly DRA Newsletter.
The Newsletter features articles on various topics related to the DRA Fellowship. For subscriptions and orders, call:
In 1998 – The DRA Online Resource Center http://draonline.org has its beginning representing the Fellowship of DRA to the world at large. It is a source of DRA World Service approved literature in various viewable, printable, and downloadable formats plus general recovery information based on the experience of people who are in dual recovery.
The DRA Online Resource Center maintains a current listing of registered DRA groups and Intergroups in the United States and Canada, plus all the information needed to start up a new DRA meeting.
According to studies that were funded by the National Institute on Mental Health:
Between 41 % and 65.5% of individuals with a substance abuse disorder also have at least one psychiatric disorder
51% of individuals who have a psychiatric disorder also have at least one substance abuse disorder.
* Improving Services for Individuals at Risk of, or with, Co-Occurring Substance Related and Mental Health Disorders, a report prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (1995)
The specific causes of psychiatric illness and chemical dependency are not fully understood at this time. Family history, genetics, brain chemistry, and environmental factors all appear to play important roles in the development of both psychiatric illness and chemical dependency.
Chemical dependency increases the risk of an individual developing a psychiatric illness.
An individual is in dual recovery when they are actively following a program that focuses on their recovery needs for both their chemical dependency and their psychiatric illness.
A variety of problems are possible as a result of a dual disorder. For example:
Other problems and consequences that are associated with dual disorder include:
DRA Meeting Format: Accepting Differences: Newcomers and visitors may ask, “Can a DRA program help me even with the type of symptoms that I have?” Such feelings are not uncommon. We need to help newcomers recognize that a variety of symptoms are possible with a dual illness. There is no single type of dual disorder.
DRA welcomes men and women who have experienced a dual disorder regardless of their chemical dependency or psychiatric history or their level of abilities. We recognize that we are men and women whose lives have been affected by different types of “no-fault” illnesses whose symptoms can disrupt our ability to function and relate to others effectively.
DRA recognizes that psychiatric medications are used for the purpose of managing psychiatric symptoms and are not taken for the purpose of achieving a “high”.
Therefore, the use of psychiatric medications is not considered to be the same as relapse.
DRA is a non-professional self help organization. It would be inappropriate for DRA to give advice or recommendations to our members regarding the use of psychiatric medications or other forms of treatment.
DRA respects and supports the right of each member to work with the professionals of their choice to develop healthy recovery plans that will best meet their personal recovery needs.
The following excerpts are found in the DRA Meeting Format:
“Dual Recovery Anonymous is a Twelve Step self help program for individuals who experience both chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness. Men and women who currently use psychiatric medications under a doctor’s care, or who have done so in the past, are welcome to participate.”
“The DRA fellowship has no opinion on matters of diagnosis, treatment, medications, or other issues related to the healthcare profession”.
“Some of us use prescription medications to control our symptoms, while others have symptoms that need no medications.”
“Today, I will follow a healthy plan to manage my emotional or psychiatric illness.”
The early members of DRA asked that same question. Over time, they began to recognize that they had shared many common feelings and experiences. The specific details of each psychiatric illness may be different. The details of their alcohol or drug use may also have been different. However, they began to recognize that there are common patterns and themes.
* Change and recover
Men and Women who are affected by dual disorders seem to encounter a common set of feelings and experiences as they begin to accept their dual disorders and their need for dual recovery. They may encounter some or all of the same feelings. They may resolve one set of feelings related to one of their illnesses but struggle with the same feelings regarding their other illness. Some people may re-experience these feelings later, if they plan to drink or use drugs again, or if they have already relapsed. Some people may encounter the feelings again if their psychiatric symptoms return.
The feelings and experiences are listed below:
It does not seem uncommon for people in dual recovery to experience feelings of fear and trauma later in recovery. This may be especially true when they feel like drinking or using drugs again or if they have relapsed. They may also experience fear and trauma if they begin to experience a reoccurrence of their psychiatric symptoms. They may begin to recall previous episodes and fear that their symptoms will grow worse. They may fear that there will be no treatment or help available for them that will be effective. They may fear that they will never be normal again and unable to function in the future.
Acceptance is a process rather than an event. It does take time for an individual to recognize and to accept that they have developed a dual disorder. It also takes time for them to identify and actively begin to follow a program for dual recovery.
Many people begin the process of recovery following a crisis. They may have experienced an episode of severe psychiatric symptoms. They may have experienced problems and consequences as a result of their alcohol or drug use. At that point, they may want relief from their symptoms, problems, and consequences.
Gradually, they begin to recognize the symptoms of their two illnesses. They begin to understand how the two illnesses have affected their lives. With that understanding, they begin to look at themselves in a new way. They begin to see that they are good people who have been affected by two serious “no-fault” illnesses.
As people gain an acceptance of their dual illness, they begin to view dual recovery in a different way. They are able to let go of the attitude that dual recovery is something that is being forced on them. They begin to want more from dual recovery than relief from symptoms, problems, and consequences.
As people begin to work a program of dual recovery they soon recognize that it offers a practical way of life. Three words that characterize dual recovery are:
The Twelve Steps offer a simple plan for dual recovery. The plan is divided into twelve parts or steps. They are adapted from the principles of the traditional Twelve Steps, the personal experiences of men and women in dual recovery, and on the principles of personal freedom and choice.
The Twelve Steps of DRA are specifically designed to help members stop using alcohol and other intoxicating drugs, maintain their recovery, and prevent relapse.
The Twelve Steps of DRA encourage members to develop and follow a healthy and constructive plan to manage their emotional or psychiatric illnesses.
By practicing the Twelve Steps for dual recovery, members find that they are better able to improve the quality of their lives.
“The DRA approach to dual recovery is based upon a simple set of ideas and steps. They are suggestions for recovery rather than a set of rules. They encourage us to find our own personal recovery, the one that is most meaningful. The are meant to support those of us who wish to bring a spiritual dimension to our dual recovery.”
DRA members are free to develop their own beliefs and lifestyles to support their dual recovery. Each Step is open to personal interpretation. DRA members are encouraged to personalize the Twelve Step program in a way that will meet their needs for dual recovery. DRA members are also encouraged to work the Steps at their own pace.
The Twelve Steps of DRA are designed to help members in several ways:
Learn to accept the dual disorder of chemical dependency and emotional or psychiatric illness, and to accept the need to develop and practice a personal program for dual recovery that focuses on recovery from both illnesses.
Choose a source of help and decide to use that source of help for dual recovery. That source of help may be referred to as a Higher Power or any other name that feels comfortable.
Identify the personal assets (attitudes, actions, and experiences) that can strengthen dual recovery. Identify the personal liabilities (attitudes, actions, and experiences) that pose a risk for dual recovery.
Work with a personal source of help (Higher Power) to strengthen the personal assets for dual recovery and remove the personal liabilities that pose a risk for dual recovery.
Identify people who have been negatively affected by a DRA member’s dual disorder and through dual recovery, work to mend those relationships.
Continue to strengthen personal assets for dual recovery and remove personal liabilities that pose a risk for relapse by continuing to work with a personal source of help (Higher Power).
Share with others who experience dual disorders how dual recovery is possible.
DRA members are free to interpret and personalize the Twelve Steps in a way that will meet their own needs for dual recovery. Members are free to develop their own beliefs and lifestyles to support their dual recovery.
Some members of DRA do incorporate spiritual or religious beliefs into their Twelve Steps. They may find that their concept of a Higher Power is one that is based on spiritual principles. They are comfortable with a more traditional approach to dual recovery that includes prayer and meditation.
Some members decide that alternative approaches are more appropriate for their dual recovery. They may be uncomfortable with spiritual principles or the practice of prayer and meditation.
There may be several reasons a DRA member chooses an alternative approach:
DRA members are free to develop and follow alternative approaches to the Twelve Step program. Their concept of a Higher Power may include any or all of the following:
DRA members are free to choose and work with more than one Higher Power. DRA members are also free to change their concept of a Higher Power as time goes by.
“The DRA fellowship is not affiliated with any other self-help organization or Twelve Step Program. DRA has no opinion on the way other groups address the problems of dual disorders or dual recovery. We do not criticize the efforts of others.”
The Twelve Steps are not a set of rules. They are a set of suggestions for dual recovery. They encourage members to develop and follow a plan for recovery that is meaningful to them. A plan that meets their personal needs in dual recovery.
The Twelve Steps offer a plan for recovery. A plan that is divided into twelve parts or Steps. Each Step is designed to help an individual learn how to develop positive attitudes and actions that will help them achieve and maintain dual recovery.
The DRA program is based on the principles of freedom and choice. Those principles apply to the Twelve Steps. Each Step is open to personal interpretation by DRA members. Each member is able to practice their Steps in their own way and at their own pace.
There is no single form of dual disorder. Each member is a unique and special person. Each member has their own history of chemical dependency and emotional or psychiatric illness. Therefore, every DRA member is encouraged to personalize the Twelve Steps in a way that will meet their own needs for dual recovery.
Traditionally, it only takes two people who are affected by a dual disorder who come together for the purpose of dual recovery and want to follow the Twelve Steps of DRA.
Some groups have been started by a single individual. That person may have found a copy of the Meeting Format in a book, received a copy from someone else or contacted the DRAWS Central Office and requested a starter packet. That person then makes arrangements for a location to hold DRA meeting and go on to inform the community about the new beginning. Frequently, that person will also be the person who chairs the initial meetings.
Some DRA groups have been started by a group of people who are acquainted with one another. They may be acquainted through participation in another recovery program. Gradually, they have become aware that they have something else in common: they are also affected by an emotional or psychiatric illness. They do not want to stop attending their other recovery group, but they do want something else. They also want to participate in a program where they can openly work on their recovery from their dual disorder with the understanding and support of others.
Other DRA groups have been started by men and women who were members of a professionally facilitated dual recovery support group. The members of the groups made a decision. In addition to their dual recovery support group, they also wanted to have a DRA meeting. They requested that the professional help them with the process of starting their DRA meeting. That person then acted as an assistant to the DRA group and helped them make arrangements to start a DRA meeting of their own.
A new DRA group can benefit from electing officers as they start the organizational process. The purpose of electing officers is twofold:
First, having officers may help the group avoid the problem of having a single person assume the responsibility of doing all of the “leg work” for the entire group. That single individual may eventually begin to feel over-stressed or burned out. When that occurs it is not healthy for either that person or the group as a whole. In addition, that individual may begin to feel that no one else is helping (even if they never asked for help). At the same time, the other members may begin to feel that the other person is taking control of the group.
Second, having officers may help the group develop a strong core of support. They will feel more committed to attend meetings as the group is beginning to become more established. In addition, group officers will be more likely to share in the tasks that are required to help establish a new meeting.
Every DRA group is free to give their officers any titles with which the group is comfortable. They may be identified as: chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, and treasurer.
Every DRA group is free to designate the duties of their officers. Traditionally, the officers schedule and conduct regular business meetings. The business meetings are also open for members of the group to attend.
The group’s officers are usually the members who are responsible for registering the group meetings with the DRAWS CO. The purpose of registering a group and listing their meetings is to have them be a part of the DRA National Directory. That is important not only for the group but as a way to help carry the message to others.
DRAWS CO frequently receives calls from people who request information about meetings in a specific location. The caller may be a DRA member who is planning to visit or relocate to a particular location. The caller may be an individual who has recently learned about DRA while in a chemical dependency or mental health program or in a corrections facility and wishes to locate a meeting. In addition, the caller maybe someone who is looking for help from a loved one or friend.
Existing groups may want to contact the DRA World Service Office to verify that their meeting listing in the directory is accurate and up to date. Please check the online meeting directory and the online meeting submission form to register your meetings.
The members of a new group may want to consider the following suggestions:
Consider a time and date that will not conflict with another DRA meeting or activity in that area. Consider having DRA meetings spread out over the week on different days or at different times.
Consider a location that is well known to the recovery community if possible. Try to identify a location that is near major streets, freeways, and bus routes. Take into consideration if there is ample parking space and if the parking area and the entrance to the building have safe lighting during evening hours. In addition, consider if the meeting room that the meeting is to be held in is near the main entrance to the building.
In most communities, there will be various organizations that will be willing to provide space for a new meeting. They may include the following: chemical dependency or mental health programs, consumer-run programs, advocacy organizations, community centres, the local YMCA or YWCA, and churches or synagogues.
DRA World Network frequently receives inquiries from service providers. Very often they are interested in seeing people they are offering services to, learn about DRA, attend or start DRA meetings.
An Institution or Service Provider may decide to have members of their staff conduct dual recovery support sessions based on DRA concepts. The staff may use the DRA Meeting Format and facilitate discussions about the Steps. Those particular activities would be referred to as “DRA Educational Sessions” or In-House Dual Recovery Support Sessions. Sessions of this nature are a part of the institution’s treatment program and are clearly not the same as DRA 12-Step Meetings run by members of the Fellowship of Dual Recovery Anonymous.
The relationship between institutions and DRA is one of cooperation rather than direct affiliation, in terms of endorsement or influence. The term “institution” refers to hospitals, treatment centers, correctional facilities, organizations, agencies, and programs or service providers. An institution may provide space for a DRA Twelve Step Fellowship Group to hold their meeting. Some institutions have also assisted Groups by helping them inform the community about the new meeting. However, institutions do not influence the DRA Fellowship, the 12-Step Group itself or the way DRA meetings are conducted. DRA 12-Step meetings that are held in institutions are open to DRA members from the community. In that way, the individuals who are currently receiving services can participate with and learn from the DRA members in the community. They will have role models, learn how DRA 12-Step meetings are conducted, and learn where other DRA 12-Step Fellowship meetings are being held in the community.
Dual Recovery Anonymous strives to work with organizations such as mental health and substance abuse service providers in the spirit of cooperation, not affiliation or endorsement. DRA must always maintain its autonomy and independence from the professional community, advocacy organizations, and the various service providers that are designed to meet the needs of individuals with co-occurring disorders. There must always be a clear boundary separating the work of DRA from the work of chemical dependency and mental health professionals.
Institutions & Service Providers should be aware that the DRA name, logos, crest, and documents, are copyrighted, and/or trademarked property of Dual Recovery Anonymous World Network Inc. They may NOT be used in any way that may suggest an endorsement by or affiliation with Dual Recovery Anonymous. DRA copyrighted materials and/or trademarked names, phrases, and logos may not be used in conjunction with any outside enterprise, commercial organization, or affiliated in any way with non-DRA use.
Every DRA group is autonomous, they are free to decide how they want their group to be organized. And how they want to conduct their meetings. They are free to request assistance from someone who is not personally in dual recovery. There may be a group of men and women who want to start a DRA meeting, however, they feel that they lack the organization or communication skills that might be required to carry out the tasks necessary to start a group and conduct meetings.
The key to that approach is that the decision making rests with the group itself. It is the group who made the decision to: start the DRA meeting, to ask for assistance, who to select and to terminate the process if they feel that they do not have a good working relationship with that individual. Another key aspect of that approach is that they have asked for an assistant who will help them learn how to help themselves in terms of learning how to organize their group and conduct meetings.
The person that a group chooses to ask may be considered a ‘special help’ or a group assistant. That person may be a professional or someone in another Twelve Step program. There are no set rules regarding who that person may or may not be.
DRA groups that request an assistant have asked: someone that they know, respect, and trust, and someone who they feel they can work with. They have asked someone who understands dual disorders, the recovery process and the principles of the Twelve Steps.
The group members also look for someone who has the groups best interest in mind. In that way, they can avoid many problems. For example; someone else trying to turn their DRA meeting into a group therapy session or someone who would carry out all of the tasks and does not allow the group’s members to participate in the process and learn for themselves.
Someone who has been asked to assist a group may participate in a variety of ways. For example; they may participate in organizational, planning, or business meetings, and offer suggestions and help solve problems. They may help identify community resources that may provide space for the group to hold their meetings and help them provide information to the community about their meeting. During the DRA meetings that person may participate by sharing in the readings as the meeting is opened and as it closes.
Ideally, the members of the group will begin to gradually develop their organizational and communication skills. As the members of the group gain experience, they may begin to feel more comfortable taking on a more active role. Over time, they may begin to rely less on their assistant and begin to turn to them only for help with specific problems and situations.
Every DRA group may decide for itself how they want to structure their meetings. They are free to decide what approach will best meet the recovery needs of their members.
The first decision that most groups make is to decide whether their meeting will be closed or open.
A closed meeting is held for DRA members and individuals who are concerned about their own personal recovery. There may be members who only feel comfortable talking about their dual recovery in a group setting that is attended by other DRA members. There may also be individuals who are concerned about their confidentiality. Those individuals want their dual recovery and participation to remain a private matter. Anonymity is the right of every DRA member and must be respected at all times.
An open meeting is held for DRA members, and individuals who are concerned about their personal recovery. In addition, it is also open for non DRA members to attend. For example, an open meeting may be attended by a family member or friend of someone in DRA. An open meeting might also be attended by someone who is looking for help for a loved one or friend who is affected by a dual disorder. An open meeting also provides a good opportunity for the fellowship to carry the message to others who may not have another means of learning about DRA.
Perhaps the majority of DRA meetings will follow the DRA Meeting Format as they open and close their meetings. The Meeting Format is presented in The Dual Disorders Recovery Book which describes the DRA program. It is also provided to individuals who contact DRA Central Service Office requesting information about the DRA program.
The Meeting Format provides an outline of how to open and close a DRA meeting. It presents the philosophy and purpose of DRA, in addition to presenting the Twelve Steps. The Meeting Format is divided into eight parts that include: Opening, Preamble, Announcements, Introductions, Accepting Differences, Getting Started In Dual Recovery, Roundtable Discussion, and Closing.
Men and women who currently use psychiatric medications under a doctor’s care or who have done so in the past are welcome to participate.
This meeting is open to DRA members and other individuals who are concerned about their personal recovery.
DRA is an independent, non-profit, self-help organization.
The primary purpose of DRA is to help one another achieve dual recovery, to prevent relapse, and to carry the message of recovery to others who experience dual disorders.
DRA has two requirements for membership; a desire to stop using alcohol and other intoxicating drugs, and a desire to manage our emotional or psychiatric illness in a healthy and constructive way.
The DRA fellowship has no opinion on matters of diagnosis, treatment, medication, or other issues related to the healthcare professions.
We need to help newcomers recognize that a variety of symptoms are possible with a dual illness. There is no single type of dual disorders.
Many of us gradually went into a closet of denial. If there are any among us who have felt as though they were living in that closet we welcome you. We want you to know that fear, isolation, and secrecy no longer need be a part of your life.
The DRA program is worked on a day-by-day basis. Here are the suggestions for dual recovery:
Announcements & 7th Tradition Break
Tradition Twelve reminds us of our need for anonymity. We ask that you do not repeat the names of anyone who has attended this meeting or talk about what has been shared. Only by exercising this Tradition can DRA provide a setting where we can feel safe to share in a way that will help our dual recovery.
Newcomers and members may be in need of professional services and ask for information during a meeting. Some DRA groups keep a directory or list of services with their meeting materials. The directory may include a list of resources for the following needs; emergency medical care, domestic violence, crisis hotlines, mobile crisis, psychiatric emergencies, detoxification, chemical dependency counseling, homeless shelters, child and protective services, and other services.
During a meeting the person who is chairing the meeting, or another member, will share with the person that a directory of services is available and that following the meeting they will help them identify the resource they need.
Each group is free to decide if their meetings will be structured or informal. The group will decide on the approach that will best meet the needs of their members.
Most groups will open and close their meetings by following the DRA Meeting Format. The person who is chairing the meeting or another member will choose a topic for discussion. The topic may be on one of the Twelve Steps or a recovery theme. At that point, groups may differ on the way they conduct their discussions.
Some groups will follow a structured approach in the way they have their discussions. Each person sitting around a table or in a circle will have an opportunity to share when it is their turn. If they want to listen and would rather not speak at that time, they simply say, “I pass”.
OPEN GROUP APPROACH:
Some groups will begin a meeting by following the Meeting Format, choosing a topic and open the meeting for discussion. Members take turns sharing, each waiting until another member has finished. However, they do not formally go in turn around a table or circle.
Some groups will begin a meeting by following the Meeting Format to open the meeting and choose a topic. The members of the group will interact directly with each other in a manner that is referred to as “cross-talk”. Some groups do prefer that approach for their discussions and feel that it is more direct and informal. Some Groups prefer no cross-talk, some groups designate a period of time for cross talk. These decisions can be made by Group Conscience or the group can delegate the decision to the chairperson, each group does this as they choose.
This content was found on the draonline.org website. We tried to contact them to get permission to display it on our website but could not get a hold of anyone. If you’re reading this and know someone from DRA then please could you ask them to get in touch with us?
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.