Double Trouble in Recovery: Self-Help for People with Dual Diagnoses

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Self-help is gaining increased acceptance among treatment professionals as the advent of managed care warrants the use of cost-effective modalities. Traditional “one disease-one recovery” self-help groups cannot serve adequately the needs of the dually diagnosed. This article discusses Double Trouble in Recovery (DTR), a 12-step self-help group designed to meet the special needs of those diagnosed with both a psychiatric disability and a chemical addiction. DTR differs from traditional self-help groups by offering people a safe forum to discuss their psychiatric disabilities, medication, and substance abuse. Preliminary data collected at four DTR sites in NYC indicate that DTR members have a long history of psychiatric disabilities and of substance abuse, and extensive experience with treatment programs in both areas. They are actively working on their recovery, as evidenced by their fairly intensive attendance at DTR. Recent substance use is limited, suggesting that participation in DTR (in conjunction with formal treatment when needed) is having a positive effect. Most members require medication to control their psychiatric disabilities, and that alone may make attendance at “conventional” 12-step groups uncomfortable. Ratings of statements comparing DTR to other 12-step meetings suggest that DTR is a setting where members can feel comfortable and safe discussing their dual recovery needs.

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