Drugs, alcohol and mental health - Getting help
How can I get help?
If you have a mental illness and use drugs, the NHS may call this 'dual diagnosis' or ‘co-occurring diagnosis’. Your local NHS trust may have a policy that says how they will help people with dual diagnosis. Check on their website to see if you can find out more about what to expect locally.
If you are not already getting help with your mental health from your local mental health team, a good first step is to make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP may offer you medication and therapy to treat your mental illness. They may refer you to a drug and alcohol service to help you with your drug use.
If your needs are too complicated for your GP to deal with alone, you might need more specialist support. A GP can refer you to your local mental health service or Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). They should offer this support and work with drug and alcohol services to give you all the help you need. The Department of Health says that people with dual diagnosis are a key group of people who should get help from mental health services.
Care Programme Approach (CPA)
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces guidance for the NHS and other organisations responsible for people’s health and care. They say that people who have a severe mental illness and drug or alcohol problem should get help under the Care Programme Approach (CPA). The CPA is a framework that the NHS uses to plan someone’s long-term care.
Under the CPA you would get a care co-ordinator to plan your care. They will help to write a care plan. This should account for all the different needs you might have such as:
- social care,
- housing, and
- physical health.
NICE also say that you should be able to give your views on the care plan to make sure that it meets your needs. And the care plan should be shared with your carers or family if you agree. You can read the NICE guidance online here.
There may be a team in your area which helps people with dual diagnosis. It is sometimes called the Dual Diagnosis Team. However, not all areas of the country have them, and it may have a different name. If there isn't one in your area, you could try contacting your local Community Mental Health
Team (CMHT) for help. However, you will need to be referred to the CMHT by your GP.
As well as NHS services, you could try contacting local charities. Many charities have support services or support groups for people struggling with substance misuse. You can find some national charities listed in the Useful Information section.
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Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays