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 Finding a Place | Informing the Community | Organizing a Group | Making Decisions 

How are DRA meetings structured?

GROUP AUTONOMY: Every DRA group may decide for itself how they want to structure their meetings. They are free to decide what approach will best meet the recovery needs of their members. By using our Twelve Traditions as guidelines, all of our meetings will have a familiar and accepting feeling no matter where a member of our Fellowship may travel.

CLOSED OR OPEN MEETINGS: The first decision that most groups make is to decide whether their meeting will be closed or open.

  • Closed: A closed meeting is held for DRA members and individuals who are concerned about their own personal recovery. There may be members who only feel comfortable talking about their dual recovery in a group setting that is attended  by other DRA members. There may also be individuals who are concerned about their confidentiality. Those individuals want their dual recovery and participation to remain a private matter. Anonymity is the right of every DRA member and must be respected at all times. Anyone attending a "Closed Meeting" must consider themselves a member of DRA according to our Second Tradition.
  • Open: An open meeting is held for DRA members, and individuals who are concerned about their personal recovery. In addition, it is also open for non DRA members to attend. For example, an open meeting may be attended by a family member or friend of someone in DRA. An open meeting might also be attended by someone who is looking for help for a loved one or friend who is affected by a dual disorder. An open meeting also provides a good opportunity for the fellowship to carry the message to others who may not have another means of learning about DRA.
  • MEETING FORMAT: Perhaps the majority of DRA meeting will follow the DRA Meeting Format as they open and close their meetings. The Meeting Format is presented in The Dual Disorders Recovery Book which describes the DRA program. It is also provided to individuals who contact DRA Central Service Office requesting information about the DRA program.

    The Meeting Format provides an outline of how to open and close a DRA meeting. It presents the philosophy and purpose of DRA, in addition to presenting the Twelve Steps. The Meeting Format is divided into eight parts that include: Opening, Preamble, Announcements, Introductions, , Getting Started In Dual Recovery, Roundtable Discussion, and Closing.

    Should a DRA meeting be structured or informal?

    Each group is free to decide if their meetings will be structured or informal. The group will decide on the approach that will best meet the needs of their members.

    Most groups will open and close their meetings by following the DRA Meeting Format. The person who is chairing the meeting or another member will choose a topic for discussion. The topic may be on one of the Twelve Steps or a recovery theme. At that point, groups may differ on the way they conduct their discussions.

    ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS: Some groups will follow a structured approach in the way they have their discussions. Each person sitting around a table or in a circle will have an opportunity to share when it is their turn. If they want to listen and would rather not speak at that time, they simply say, "I pass".

    OPEN GROUP APPROACH: Some groups will begin a meeting by following the Meeting Format, choosing a topic and open the meeting for discussion. Members take turns sharing, each waiting until another member has finished. However, they do not formally go in turn around a table or circle.

    CROSS TALK DISCUSSION: Some groups will begin a meeting by following the Meeting Format to open the meeting and choose a topic. The members of the group will interact directly with each other in a manner that is referred to as "cross talk". Some groups do prefer that approach for their discussions and feel that it is more direct and informal.

    Organization and Service Work

    A DRA Group functions with the willing efforts of its Service Workers. Service work starts at the Group level. Groups may form Group Service Work Committees that help guide and coordinate activities and to help keep the Group focused and stay on task. Service positions are usually rotated and can be as simple as a three-month commitment to set up the chairs and tables or put out literature each meeting, to a longer commitment to be a Group Officer such as the Group's Treasurer or Service Representative. These are suggested guidelines and each Group may decide to add, delete, or combine certain responsibilities as necessary for their particular needs. Service positions do not imply authority or bring any special honor and distinction. We all have an equal partnership in dual recovery. Our leaders are service committee volunteers and do not govern.

    ELECTING OFFICERS: A new DRA Group can benefit from electing officers to fill Group Service Committee positions as they start the organizational process. The purpose of electing officers is twofold:

    First, having officers may help the group avoid the problem of having a single person assume the responsibility of doing all of the "leg work" for the entire group. That single individual may eventually begin to feel over stressed or burned out. When that occurs it is not healthy for either that person or the group as a whole. In addition, that individual may begin to feel that no one else is helping (even if they never asked for help). At the same time the other members may begin to feel that the other person is taking control of the group. 

    Second, having officers that form the Group's Service Work Committee may help the group develop a strong core of support. They will feel more committed to attend meetings as the group is beginning to become more established. In addition, group officers will be more likely to share in the tasks that are required to help establish a new meeting.

    IDENTIFYING OFFICERS: Every DRA group is free to give their officers any titles with which the group is comfortable. They may be identified as: chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, treasurer, and group service representative.

    DUTIES: Every DRA group is free to designate the duties of their officers. Traditionally, the officers schedule and conduct regular business meetings. The business meetings are also open for members of the group to attend.

    The Group’s Service Work Committee officers are usually the members who are responsible for registering the Group's meetings with DRA World Network . The purpose of registering a group and listing their meetings is to have them be a part of the DRA International Directory. That is important not only for the group, but as a way to help carry the message to others. The DRA World Network Office frequently receives calls from people who request information about meetings in a specific location. The caller may be a DRA member who is planning to visit or relocate to a particular location. The caller may be an individual who has recently learned about DRA while in a chemical dependency or mental health program or in a corrections facility, and wishes to locate a meeting. In addition, the caller may be someone who is looking for help for a loved one or friend.

    Identification and Naming

    Groups often name themselves. In keeping with the spirit of the Sixth Tradition we have found it advisable to make sure our group names do not give the appearance of being linked to any outside enterprise, organization, political or religious institution, or treatment center. Ever mindful to keep principles before personalities we discourage naming groups after people, living or dead.

    Due to our Tradition of non-affiliation and to help limit confusion in the public at large, DRA Groups that incorporate the words "Double Trouble" or "Dual Diagnosis" in their names will have "DRA Group" or similar wording appended to their names in our public database when they register their meetings. We respect other dual recovery organizations and must certainly distinguish our Fellowship's Groups and meetings from meetings of organizations with those words in their names.

    Self Support

    Tradition Seven reminds us, "DRA groups ought to be self-supporting." The principle of support is a process or cycle that occurs on several levels within our Fellowship: Group, Meeting, Sponsorship, and Personal. It may be expressed in many ways as cycles:

    • "In order to offer support, we need support."
    • "We receive support, in order to offer support."

    Many of us have begun our dual recovery during periods of distress: physical, psychological, social, financial and spiritual. Gradually, we begin to feel more stable in our dual recovery and want to help others through the DRA Group's Service Work.

    DRA Groups work to carry our message and provide support through Service Work. The Group members develop the skills to coordinate their activities and manage their Group's finances. The Group's members offer contributions as they are able to (as there are no membership dues or fees in DRA). Frequently, a contribution 'basket' is passed at some point during a meeting.  Members are free to contribute whatever amount they feel they can offer, without any sense of pressure to do so.

    Groups must first meet basic needs.  Those needs may include: literature, the fee (if there is a fee) for the meeting location, coffee, and other DRA related expenses as approved by the Group Conscience.  As the Group grows, they may use some of their financial reserves to expand their meetings or hold special events. Latter they may use monies above their prudent reserves to help broaden the efforts of local area Intergroups and to help support the efforts of the DRA World Service Central Office.

    Experience has shown that nothing can so surely damage a Group's serenity as arguments and resentments over money. We do not need to accumulate wealth beyond a prudent reserve. Our Groups avoid debt and financial entanglement. DRA Groups may carry the message of hope and recovery out into their communities as they grow and as their Seventh Tradition contributions will allow.


    Dual Recovery Anonymous
    World Network Central Office
    P.O. Box 8107, Prairie Village, Kansas, 66208
    Toll Free 1-877-883-2332

    Section Index
    Finding a suitable location for your new meeting
    Letting people know of your meeting 
    How a new DRA can grow and begin to be organized 
    How a Group makes Decisions
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