A dual disorder takes place when a person is affected by both chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness. In every given case, chemical dependency and emotional or mental illness may affect an individual physically, socially, and spiritually.
For nearly fifteen years of my life, I seemed have been just going through the motions of being a wife and mother. I had no idea what was wrong with me. Sometimes I found it hard just to get through the day. The only thing that seemed to perk me up, or give me that certain coping capability was alcohol. But it took me years to accept the fact that I was indeed an alcoholic, you see I only drank beer. A six pack a day was nothing in my reasoning; at least I was not one of those types of drinkers. You know the type, the type who hung out at bars, neglected their families and looked like a drunk.
When things finally came to a head in my life, I finally got the strength to seek help. During my stint at rehab, I also realized that I was dealing with depression as well.
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.
Often times a person with a dual diagnosis may feel as if he/she does not fit in anywhere. For example some individual AA and NA rooms can make a person feel out of place. Its can be very difficult trying to share your experience about the depression medication you are taking where as so many of the rooms have a DRUG FREE policy. I have heard horror stories of local AA meetings in my area where the members have been known to take away the psyche meds of new members. Granted not all AA and NA 12 Step groups are the same, that’s why I suggest you go to many in your first steps of recovery to find one you feel comfortable with.
As far as a 12 step program for people who are dual diagnosed I suggest that one look for a DRA Group- Dual Recovery Anonymous. The meeting format is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Here a person can share both their struggle with alcohol/substance abuse and mental illness. The 12 steps of DRA are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over our dual illness of chemical dependency and emotional or psychiatric illness – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Higher Power of our understanding could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power, to help us to rebuild our lives in a positive and caring way.
- Made a searching and fearless personal inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our liabilities and our assets.
- Were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all our liabilities.
- Humbly asked our Higher Power to remove these liabilities and to help us to strengthen our assets for recovery.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when wrong promptly admitted it, while continuing to recognize our progress in dual recovery.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power, praying only for knowledge of our Higher Power’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others who experience dual disorders and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
*Adapted from the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymousï¿½
*The Twelve Steps of AA are reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only – use of the Twelve Steps in connection with programs and activities that are patterned after AA, but that address other problems, does not imply otherwise. THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS* 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people where ever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought thorough prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. *Courtesy of http://www.dualrecovery.org/index.html *
So fast forward four years later to the present. My journey through dual recovery is something I face on a daily basis. I am blessed to have strong support from my family, friends and my church. And the number one factor that gets me through the rough times is my faith. Prayer and the goodness of God is the reason why I am here to today. When you give yourself totally to Him, no weapon formed against you shall prosper.