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Apr-01-2007 11:50printcomments

Dual Diagnosis Anonymous - Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Since 1996, the DDA peer support group offers sessions in most of the western states, including Hawaii, and in other countries such as Great Britain and Canada.

Empowerment Center
Photos by: Lela Taylor

(SALEM) - The emphasis on treatment for substance abuse and mental illness has been addressed as separate issues, usually at the cost of one issue being shadowed when existing within one individual.

This month a mental health work group report states that an excellent example of peer-support services is the establishment of Dual Diagnosis Anonymous (DDA) in Oregon. It states that in less than two years, DDA has grown to over 600 people attending meetings and further states modest financial support would continue the expansion of these valuable meetings.

On January 15th, 1996, Corbett M. held his first support group in Fontana, California, and the concept of Dual Diagnosis Anonymous (DDA) emerged as a viable awareness peer support program.

As an individual who has been dual diagnosed, Corbett became uniquely aware of the gaps in treatment programs and the conflict individuals go through when battling both substance abuse and mental illness.

The co-occurring effects of individuals suffering from mental illness and substance abuse can affect individuals in areas of their physical, psychological, social, and spiritual identities. When these two conditions are present, they make diagnosis, treatment, and recovery more complex.

Psychological issues can also be addressed in the course of substance abuse treatment sessions. Professionals now recognize the need for these dual conditions to be addressed and the peer support group has proven to be a successful vessel for help.

Since 1996, the DDA peer support group offers sessions in most of the western states, including Hawaii, and in other countries such as Great Britain and Canada. Corbett, as the Project Coordinator, is acutely aware of the problems that exist and the need for the public’s awareness of these issues.

Corbett M. is the founder of Dual Diagnosis Anonymous

When Corbett first sought to introduce his new peer support group to other communities, he often found it difficult to find a place or organization willing to offer their facility as a meeting place. Now, there is a waiting list in several counties here in Oregon for fellowship meetings and different Chapters statewide want to host the DDA peer group sessions.

Recently, I visited one of the DDA group meetings here in Salem, which was held at The Empowerment Center at 2620 Greenway Drive in Salem. A large group of peers were there for only one purpose – to support each other and to acknowledge their own dual diagnosis and commitment in following their 12-step program.

The only requirement for membership in DDA is a desire to develop a healthy drug and alcohol free lifestyle. The program is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with an additional five steps that focus on Dual Diagnosis (mental illness and substance abuse). This program offers hope for achieving the promise of recovery and as F. Dostoyevsky wrote, "To Live Without Hope is to Cease to Live”.

Danny, one of the visitors at this meeting, thought the group was great and was very impressed. He acknowledged the need of individuals to continue to progress until wholeness is reached and addiction is left behind. Another individual at the meeting, Robert, said he wants to keep coming back as he feels this is the one support group that will help him towards recovery.

Linda, who is currently with the Clinical Advisory Committee for Marion County, shared that on April 1 she will have nine years of recovery for her clinical depression. In the early years, the concept of identifying both substance abuse and mental health issues were difficult concepts mental health professionals found difficult to treat.

This reporter has seen the affects of a family member who has faced the demons of substance abuse and mental illness. He has been primarily treated for substance abuse and his mental illness issues seem to have been a secondary consideration, mainly because of lack of funding.

The family knew both issues compounded each other. For years he has been through the revolving doors of our legal and mental health systems and has tried many treatment programs. If he had been directed to a group such as DDA, even within the last five years, his life may have been different.

Currently he is on the road to recovery, but it has been a road traveled before and his family is hoping the many journeys he has taken have made him st rong enough this time to stay free from substance abuse and that he will continue to seek help for his mental illness.

Substance abuse and mental illness have no quick fix recipes, but with the awareness of our community and the wiliness of our legal and health systems to recognize programs such as DDA peer support groups and their valuable asset to individuals and our community, maybe the recipes towards wellness will be more lasting.

For more information on open meetings for family and friends of dually diagnosed persons call: 503-844-0203.

For information on DDA call Dual Diagnosis Anonymous of Oregon: 503-737-4126 or 1-877-222-1332 or e-mail:

Following are links on the internet to DDA and other related subjects:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Gary May 20, 2011 8:29 am (Pacific time)

Wow this looks like a super great place. I put my brother through a drug transition home out here in Arizona and my brother says sober living is the best thing that has every happened to him. People got to get out and find these places! They're so great. We found his at

West Virginia Drug Rehab April 16, 2009 2:49 am (Pacific time)

Most addicts feels that they have control over their addiction and they can stop drug and alcohol addiction when they want but it not true. It is just a myth to satisfy themselves and hiding their real identity and thoughts, because by using drugs and alcohol their behavior, thinking and self-identity is changed and they become depressed. Therapists and counselors of alcohol and drug rehab in West Virginia are primarily concentrated towards cognitive behavior modification program for drug abusers. The main step of addiction treatment is mental healing and makes changing in their thinking and behavior. The educational program and recreational activities are also organized in rehab centers to learn and discover their real identity, area of interest and self-confidence. This is necessary for them to make ideal social entity

Vonessa June 21, 2008 10:13 pm (Pacific time)

To Jeanne M., I also live in Minnesota..Today isJune 22, 2008. Can you please give me your email address so I can write you. Thankyou..

Jeanne Milbauer July 9, 2007 5:48 pm (Pacific time)

I have celebrated 27 years of sobriety and I have successfully managed bi-polar after some hospitalizations. I live in Minnesota and, at the age of 67, I am beginning to do some volunteer work. I did not realize Minnesota was was looking at help for those with a dual diagnosis. Send me and e-mail or call me. I would like to know how successful this is working throughout some states--etc. 952.432.5370

Retired Contractor April 4, 2007 10:20 am (Pacific time)

HR. Now I understand why you are why you are. My apology to you.

Disabled April 1, 2007 10:22 pm (Pacific time)

Dear Bipolar, Thank you for your comment. For a little while I will not feel so abandoned and alone. More people need to come forward....we did not ask for this and nothing is worse. Usually we are extremely intelligent but it does us no good when it comes to earning a paycheck. There is no magical cure but an understanding society and government would lessen the pain. It seems like I am on a highway with no exit and constant toll booths.

Bipolarsucks April 1, 2007 8:47 pm (Pacific time)

Absolutely agree with you. Mental illness is just as serious as late stage cancer for some people yet its "all in our heads" to most people who don't understand. I too would rather be legless and happy in life than have bipolar. So much of the time its as if nobody understands or tries to.

Hank Ruark April 1, 2007 7:52 pm (Pacific time)

D: Ask your counselor re cognitive therapy a la Dr. Aaron Beck, M.D....met him by chance in Chicago, was gifted with book, greatly helped me and others. Book is: ISBN 0-8236-0990-1

Disabled with legs and arms. April 1, 2007 5:04 pm (Pacific time)

Most people are so ignorant about things they can not see. I have been suffering for decades from anxiety and depression in addition to other non-psychotic disorders created by decades of family and social abuse and possibly a genetic predisposition. I would rather have had no legs than to have suffered from mental illness this long. There is nothing harder to live with yet it is basically ignored by society and the government.

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