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Dual Diagnosis Anonymous - Mental Illness and Substance AbuseLela Taylor, Salem-News.com
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.
(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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Following are links on the internet to DDA and other related subjects:
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