For some time, I had been volunteering bringing the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to our local psychiatric hospital. A few years ago, we (three volunteers) were asked by the hospital if we would chair DRA meetings there. At first we rejected the idea because we were in AA, and we didn’t know exactly what DRA was. The doctor in charge of substance abuse really wanted this DRA program to be available as a healing tool, so we decided to give it a try since the three of us had some psychiatric issues, and we were taking medications.
Today there are twelve of us carrying the DRA message inside the local psychiatric hospital. We have four DRA meetings each week at the hospital, and three in the community of Morganton, NC.
How did we do it? I first made a call to our DRA Central Office and learned about the DRA Online Resource Center, (http://draonline.org). I downloaded the Group Start-Up Package and our group began having DRA meetings. We found the meeting in Asheville, an hour’s drive from us, so we visited there a couple times to gain a better understanding of how it works.
We are all involved and participate in our meetings, reading the literature, picking topics, and sharing about issues. When newcomers read or even listen to the material being read, it is as if they suddenly come alive with that sense of really finding answers. It’s like magic. They often say things like, “I’ve never heard of DRA, but this is what is happening to me. Can I have a copy of this or that?” “I want to show this to my family (or boyfriend etc), maybe they can understand the way I feel and why I act the way I do at times.”
Using material from DRA’s website, I put together three pamphlets. It just started happening. Every few weeks or so I would put together another pamphlet and make copies of it for these folks who were, and still are, starved for any and everything about how to manage their psychiatric illness in a positive and constructive way. We are now using eight pamphlets, which you can download, or order from DRA Online Bookstore (http://draonline.org). We make these pamphlets available to anyone who is interested in DRA.
I have observed that some patients go from the hospital to the NC state operated treatment center in our area. I am retired, so I can, and do, go to any number of meetings. I go to AA as well as DRA. I go to a number of meetings where many of those present have finished substance abuse treatment and are living in halfway houses. Some of these folks are getting clean and sober, and some are staying that way! I really feel the ratio is higher among the people who have been involved with DRA.
I have also seen some who seem to get their medications in order, and then they start to feel good about themselves and are able to go home. For whatever reason, if they stop taking their meds, Bang! They are right back in the hospital in that never-ending cycle.
My story is, I’ve been there, the only way I ever felt good was using some substance that could change my feelings. I know what it’s like to ride the wild winds, the no control in the high tides, sometimes feeling wonderful and free, not knowing or not caring what comes or what may happen. Then comes the dark doom of the inside of the twisting, turning, the squeezing of your insides with the slashing ride of not knowing if you’re going to live or die, having no hope for today, let alone tomorrow.
Today, because of My Twelve Step Programs, AA I use for my alcoholism, DRA I use for my life. Today my life is Real! Today my life, along with all the symptoms of my psychiatric illness, is controllable. I can feel pain, remorse, anger, happiness, sadness, love, you name it. I can feel any of these and more WITHOUT going to that underlying HELL that always came.
For me, as long as I’m in the process of growing in my program, taking my meds as prescribed, Working on a relationship with myself, with my Higher Power and with you, staying involved in trying to reach out to others and letting them reach out to me. I can FEEL REAL. Feeling real beats the hell out of feeling good.