A dual diagnosis occurs when you have both a mental health problem and a substance use disorder. If you have this condition, rehab is often the best path to recovery.
Though the treatments in rehab are effective, you might still need something extra, like a support group. Knowing people who have the same struggles, and sharing in their experiences, is something significant that can help with your recovery.
For many people who are recovering from addictions, 12-step groups are popular. These include alcoholics anonymous (AA) and narcotics anonymous (NA).
But if you have a dual diagnosis, AA and NA might not meet your specific needs. For one, AA and NA only deal with alcoholism and drug abuse, respectively, which is only one aspect of your condition. They don’t deal with co-occurring mental disorders.
Many people with dual diagnosis also feel out of place in traditional NA or AA meetings. Some members may even shun them when they display symptoms of their mental health conditions. That kind of treatment will just make matters worse.
For that reason, there is a group called Dual Diagnosis Anonymous, or DDA, which addresses both conditions.
What is Dual Diagnosis Anonymous?
DDA is a 12-step group for recovering dual diagnosis patients. It operates a lot like NA and AA, using the 12 steps to facilitate recovery. But to address the co-occurring disorders, DDA has added 5 steps to the usual 12. This is been known as the “12+5 steps” of DDA.
Here are the 12 steps:
- We admitted we were powerless over our dual diagnosis, and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- 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 we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through 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.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others who still suffer from the effects of dual diagnosis, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
And the extra five steps are:
- We admitted that we had a mental illness, in addition to our substance abuse, and we accepted our dual diagnosis.
- We became willing to accept help for both of these diseases.
- We have understood the role of medication, including its risks and benefits, the importance of clinical interventions and therapies, and we have accepted the need for sobriety from alcohol and abstinence from all non-prescribed drugs in our program.
- We came to believe that when our own efforts were combined with the help of others in the fellowship of DDA, and God, as we understood Him, we would develop addiction free life styles.
- We continued to follow the DDA Recovery Program of the Twelve Steps plus Five managing our wellbeing, a healthy addiction free lifestyle, and helped others.
Can I just go to DDA instead of rehab?
Please take note that DDA is not a substitute for professional rehab services. DDA facilitators are not trained mental health professionals, so they cannot give you the behavioral and psychological therapies you may need. They also cannot dispense medications.
Dual diagnosis is a serious condition that often warrants evidence-based treatments. It’s best to enroll in a rehab program to best deal with your condition.
If you’re already in rehab, then joining DDA is a great addition to your set of treatments. In fact, step 3 of the “plus five” steps of DDA mentions the role of medications and therapies. All the more that you should not use DDA to replace rehab.
What happens in a DDA meeting?
In DDA meetings, members share their experiences, feelings, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and hopes with each other. You would do the same. It’s a great place to learn from each other, and it will improve how you manage your own dual diagnosis.
The group also teaches you how to live with unresolved problems in your life related to your dual diagnosis. That way, these problems won’t get you stuck in a rut. Once you accept those parts of your life, you can better move through recovery.
How much do I have to pay to be a DDA member?
The great thing about DDA is it’s totally free to join. There are no membership fees, and DDA groups don’t even keep membership records to keep everyone anonymous. You can just walk into a meeting and join right away.
DDA relies on donations to keep running. In meetings, expect for donations to be collected, but know that you’re not at all required to give. But if you’re feeling generous, and you have the money, go ahead and donate. You’d be helping your group in a huge way.
Are all DDA meetings the same?
There may be dozens of DDA groups near you, so you may have a hard time choosing. While all DDA groups use the 12+5 steps, not all groups are the same. Each group is unique because of the diverse members, and at the end of the day, it’s the members who decide how the meetings go.
If you’ve never been to a 12-step group before, you can explore several of the groups near you. Then, stick with the group you’re most comfortable in.