EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH &
DRA has offered me what I had lost or been unable to find in
my sobriety. It offers me believable hope and steps to apply to both my
chemical dependency and my psychiatric illnesses. It also offers me a way to
heal the emotional and psychic damage that I experienced as a result of my
dual disorders. This is just as true for me today as it was when DRA first
began to develop.
In 1973 I made a decision to seek professional help for my
chemical dependency. I had started drinking and using drugs when I was 13.
By the time I was 18, I was using every day. I drank, swallowed, snorted and
shot as many drugs as I could try, and rarely met a drug that I did not
Gradually, I began to experience problems in every area of
my life. There were times when I desperately wanted to stop. I was unable to
stop or control my use. I didnít know how. Eventually, I accepted the
truth ó that I needed the help of other people.
The plan was for me to go to a psychiatric program for
evaluation and referral on to a treatment program. The problem was that they
were trying to determine if I was chemically dependent, or if I was
experiencing a psychiatric illness. They did not seem to consider the
possibility that I was affected by both disorders. They neglected to
recommend psychiatric follow-up as a part of their treatment referral.
I accepted the diagnosis and treatment because I desperately
wanted to recover. It would be many more years before I would learn that my
accurate diagnosis is both major depression and attention deficit disorder.
At that time I followed my doctorsí recommendations.
I completed an inpatient treatment program and went on to
live in a halfway house for additional support in my early recovery. I
became active in practicing the 12 Steps. Later I went on to work in the
field of chemical services, and enjoyed both my recovery and my work.
I eventually began experiencing symptoms of my psychiatric
illness. For several years I didnít recognize them as being psychiatric
symptoms, nor did the doctors that I saw for my Ďhealth problemsí. But
they finally began causing problems and consequences in most areas of my
I was quick to become defensive and blame people and
situations. As time went on, it became quite clear that something was
seriously wrong with me. I eventually sought psychiatric help, and was
diagnosed manic depressive, and began being treated with psychiatric
medication. Instead of getting better, I grew worse, and began experiencing
additional symptoms that made it impossible for me to keep working. I began
to experience visual disturbances that were similar to the after-effects of
LSD, that became chronic and continuous. I also experienced auditory
hallucinations that came in the form of hearing music or a voice.
Numerous medical tests were conducted, but didnít provide
any clear explanations or directions for appropriate treatment. I became
convinced that suicide was more attractive than the possibility of living a
diminished quality of life - especially if the symptoms I was experiencing
would grow steadily worse.
I made a suicide plan, wrote out goodbye letters; I had the
means and a location picked out where I wouldnít be interrupted. I was
calm, and at peace with my decision.
My plan was interrupted because my vision became so
disturbed that I was unable to drive my car to the designated location. I
sat up all that night, sincerely hoping that by morning I would be able to
drive my car and carry out my plan.
During the night, I experienced a change within me. I hadnít
wanted to change; I was not trying to change. It simply took place. The
feelings of fear, shame, guilt, and hopelessness faded out. The desire to
die and be in the company of accepting loved ones faded.
Instead, I became filled with believable hope. I felt a
sense of positive energy and motivation. I came to know that on the inside I
was still the perfect person that I was when I was born. I came to know that
I still have creative abilities. I came to know that I was a part of
something, though I did not know what that something was, at that time.
Morning came. The changes that I had experienced during the night were still
a part of me. I felt that something new and fresh was happening already.
I arrived in Kansas City and arranged for medical care. The
neurologist and psychiatrists who helped me still do not fully understand my
symptoms of chronic visual disturbance or periods of auditory
hallucinations. Perhaps shooting LSD and other psychedelic drugs caused some
damage, and as I grow older, the damage is catching up with me. While they
have no clear answers or cures, my doctors can help me manage the symptoms
with appropriate medications.
My next task was to locate a 12-Step program for people who
experienced dual disorders. I was unable to locate any such group. The only
reasonable next step would be to start one. I arranged to use a room in the
church that my parents attend, and on June 27, 1989, the first meeting was
held that was to gradually evolve into DRA.
The growth of DRA was slow, but we were guided by a vision
of a program - one that is based on the Principles of the 12 Steps, the
personal experiences of men and women in dual recovery, and the principle of
freedom and choice. Eventually, the blueprint and the meeting format that
included the 12 Steps were written and published. Gradually, people in other
states began requesting information about DRA and began forming their own
DRA continues to offer me believable hope, direction to
follow, the support of other people, and a way to continue the process of
inner healing and growth. For me, dual recovery is ongoing. I have found
that over time my symptoms have changed. Today, I continue to apply the
Steps and to use the support of other members, for which I am truly
By Tim H., Founder of D.R.A.