JOE GAMM — The Daily
The Daily Astorian
7/1/2009 12:09:00 PM
SEASIDE - Corbett Monica, a Sandy man, suffers from
mental illness and addiction, but has been sober for 23
years. And for those 23 years he has helped others to
find sobriety. Many people who suffer from mental
illness also have substance abuse problems. The
combination of these conditions is considered dual
Sam Condron, left, and Dual Diagnosis Anonymous
founder Corbett Monica discuss upcoming meetings of the
Seaside-based group helps people with 'dual diagnosis'
Many people who suffer from mental illness also have
substance abuse problems
Monica developed Dual
Diagnosis Anonymous (DDA) - a program intended to help
people diagnosed with mental illness and addiction to
One of the newest DDA chapters opened recently in
DDA was based on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
peer-support, faith-based 12-step program, in which
addiction sufferers accept responsibility for their
activities and conditions. But it goes further, adding
five steps, in which the participants in the program
admit to having mental illness in addition to their
addictions and accept responsibility for taking their
"I have not met an addict or alcoholic who does not have
an underlying mental illness," Monica said.
Monica served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam in the
1960s. He was addicted to intravenous drugs at the time,
and after serving in the war had a deep sense of
hopelessness. He was placed in a psychiatric hospital
after a couple of suicide attempts in California.
But in 1986 he realized he had to get sober. He began
attending AA meetings. He was eventually hired in
Riverside County, Calif., to provide services for people
in the county who were dual diagnosed. In 1996, Monica
took a group of dual diagnosed consumers to a 12 Step
meeting in Fontana, Calif. But one of his clients, known
as Ruben G., who had been diagnosed with paranoid
schizophrenia and alcoholism, disrupted the meeting -
pacing, mumbling and laughing to himself because he
Monica was asked not to take Ruben G. to any more
meetings, but Ruben G. was disappointed because he loved
the 12 Step meetings. Monica realized that dual
diagnosed folks didn't fit in with other 12 Step
clients. And conditions of substance abuse and mental
illness had to be treated equally, so he began DDA.
The program made its way to Oregon. Monica contracted
with the state to open 40 DDA chapters beginning in
With the addition of the Seaside chapter, there are now
82 around Oregon. The chapters can be found at mental
health and residential outpatient facilities, acute care
hospitals, churches, shelters and prisons.
In Seaside, meetings are held in two locations, one at
the North Coast Recovery Outreach Center, at 1530 S.
Roosevelt Drive, from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays. Another
location is LifeWorks Northwest, 1000 S. Holladay Drive,
from 11 a.m. to noon Fridays. Times are subject to
Sam Condron, an outreach specialist for DDA, came to the
North Coast from Portland to help establish the chapter.
He is the chapter's secretary as it gets off the ground.
"We're hoping the chapter we establish here will be
self-supporting," he said.
Right now, the nonprofit DDA of Oregon, is funded
through the state of Oregon, but there is a link on the
organization's Web site ddaoforegon.com for people who
wish to donate. Monica said the organization is
fortunate that it has access to donated space, but
sometimes it has to rent, so it welcomes donations
through the statewide organization to help in those
instances. Also, clients often donate what they can,
which generally pays for refreshments at the meetings.
LifeWorks Northwest Program Director Michel Meiffren
said he was immediately excited about the possibility of
having a chapter of DDA on the North Coast when state
officials contacted him. And he warns that simply having
the program won't solve the area's needs if people
aren't willing to attend.
"It fits for that category of people who have dual
diagnosis," he said. "But we cannot mandate that people
attend a program like dual diagnosis."