A core principle behind the Second Tradition is that there are no charges, dues, or fees for DRA membership. Newcomers do not need a referral from a professional service provider. All anyone needs to do to become a member of the Fellowship of Dual Recovery Anonymous is to read this Tradition and ask themselves if they have a desire.
As long as I say I am a member, no one can tell me I don't belong in DRA. I like that! I've never much been one for joining anything--mostly I think because no one would have me. I belong in DRA. I'm part of something really good and I help people just by showing up and telling my story at meetings.
A lot'a guys still feel pretty hopeless about their chances when they first come to a meeting. We know how it feels. They don't have to know much of anything about DRA or dual recovery to come and listen and decide whether they want to become a member or not. They don't need an ounce of faith in the program or any real hope. All they need is some small spark of desire to get better. The hope and faith can come latter. Mostly we want them to keep comin' back.
A friend of mine says he is addicted to food. He has a binge eating disorder. He also has a psychiatric illness. He wants to be a member of DRA and attend our local Closed meetings but he has never been an alcoholic or drug addict. Our Group discussed this and we decided it was our Group Conscience that we could not be everything to every person. We could not risk watering down our Primary Purpose and the message of DRA. Several members felt that they simply wouldn't feel as comfortable sharing their drug culture experiences in a closed meeting with people who have never been exposed to a lifestyle that sometimes included illegal behaviors and jail time. Though recovery from some eating disorders may utilize the 12 Steps and have some similar issues with addiction, food isn't an illegal substance or addictive in the same sense as drugs and alcohol. For the well-being of our Group and DRA as a whole, we stuck to the Second Tradition just as it is written. He is still welcome with open arms at our Open meetings.
As a Fellowship or as a Group or as an individual member of DRA, we never want to take from someone else the ability to share in our Fellowship if they feel they have a dual diagnosis and want the support that DRA offers. It is not for us to screen prospective members or set up any rules or requirements beyond this simple Tradition. No one needs my permission, or a professional referral, or prescription to become a member of the DRA Fellowship. I suppose that occasionally people who do not fit within our Second Tradition might attend Closed Meetings anyway. I think that sooner or latter they will come to understand DRA is not really for them. They will eventually feel conflicted and leave to find help elsewhere that is appropriate for their particular needs.
I'm so glad there are no rules stating DRA is only for people who have been through treatment or who have been hospitalized due to their dual illnesses. I stopped drinking in AA two years ago after I realized my glass of wine with dinner had turned into several glasses each night just so I could fall asleep. My physician diagnosed and treated my depression with antidepressants. I still work and take care of my children and live a pretty mainstream looking life but I so need my DRA meetings. I know that if I don't continue to stay sober and manage my depression in a healthy and constructive way, I could lose everything.