The phone is one of the most useful tools we have in our recovery. It helps us share on a one-to-one basis and avoid isolation. Using it helps us learn to reach out, ask for help and give help to others.In early recovery, it gives us an immediate outlet for hard-to-handle feelings and cravings. Throughout recovery, it lets us have a 'one to one meetings between meetings'. By staying in contact with other people, we can break out of the isolation which so many of us feel because of both our dual illness.
It is extremely useful to put together a list of phone numbers of supportive people we can rely on for help and to do this as soon as possible. Some DRA and other Twelve Step groups have a list of members with the experience to take calls from newer members who may be having trouble with cravings or distress. Often people will offer their numbers to newcomers for the same reason. It is usually suggested that women take women's numbers, and men take men's.
We find it useful to have several different numbers to call in case of this sort of emergency since not everyone on our list will be available when we need to talk to someone. They might be at work, busy in some other way, asleep, away from their phones or have them switched off.It is also a good idea to ring professionals who work closely with us in times of need. If we are experiencing an increase in our emotional or psychiatric symptoms or are having problems with our medication, calling our Community Mental Health Nurse, Social Worker or therapist to let them know about the situation is part of learning to take responsibility for our recovery. They may be busy people but they are concerned about our well-being and are positive about our dual recovery. Over the phone, they may suggest a different coping method, approve an adjustment in medication, or offer us an appointment.The phone is a lifeline for recovering people in dual recovery. One person in recovery talking to another has proved time and time again to be powerful enough to stop them from picking up a drink or a drug. But we must learn to make those calls before using the drugs or having the drink. The therapeutic value of one person in dual recovery relating their experience, strength and hope to another is without parallel.
Many of us need to practise using this vital tool. We may have to overcome our anxieties. At first, few of us have been comfortable reaching out for support. We may have an intense fear of rejection, or feel unworthy or feel 'less than'. In Dual Recovery Anonymous the most important person at a meeting is the newcomer and anyone who has given us their number will have done so because they are willing to talk to us. Along with meetings, the phone is our main tool for networking with other people in recovery.
The internet is also becoming a valuable recovery tool, not just for general information (like this website) but also for personal support through instant messaging services, chat rooms, social media[, blogs] and so on. You will need to ensure, however, that your confidentiality is protected on line. While there are plenty of online recovery groups and discussions on the net, they are not, however (unless you live miles away from a meeting or there are disability access issues) meant to be a substitute for, or replace, live, face to face support meetings.