This grounded study examines how people who are dually diagnosed with a major mental illness and substance use disorder ‘recover'' their lives from a past of ‘intemperate insanity'' and discover a world in a rich and productive present. Thirty participants, including consumers, staff and families, took part in the study. Additional slices of data were retrieved from the analysis of six ‘policy'' documents and 72 hours of participant observation. All data were constantly compared and analysed using Glaser''s emergent approach to grounded theory. Research and literature on those with coexisting disorders has been dominated by the ‘medical model'' with a focus on assessment, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation both in addiction and mental health settings. Whilst these aspects of ‘management'' of coexisting disorders are important, this acute phase of intervention represents only a small fragment of a person''s life. These people are not their disease, and the coexisting disorders are not the totality of their being. ‘Discovering a life'' was an emergent theme that formed the basic core category.