Understanding Dual Diagnosis in the UK

Dual diagnosis, or coexisting mental health and substance use problems, is a common issue in the UK. According to a 2002 study in Bromley, it was found that dual diagnosis was present in 20% of community mental health clients, 43% of hospitalized psychiatric patients, and 56% of people in safe services. This prevalence can affect between 30 and 70 percent of those who go to health and social care settings. The Department of Health reported in 2002 that supporting people with dual diagnosis was one of the biggest problems facing frontline mental health services.

This is due to fragmented care leading people to fall into service cracks. To address this issue, case studies of services that work with individuals with a dual diagnosis in a variety of settings and locations have been established. These offer practical help for those who want to establish dual diagnosis services. People with dual diagnosis have complex needs related to stressors or health, social, economic, and emotional circumstances that can often be exacerbated by substance abuse.

The writer and activist, Sam Thomas, is well aware of the barriers faced by people with dual diagnoses when seeking support. Liz McCoy, leader of Drugs and Alcohol and Addictive Behaviors at the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, believes that the problem with dual diagnosis is that people living with alcohol and drug addiction and a coexisting mental health disorder easily slide through the system and are not supported vital that they need. To address this issue, it is important to act accordingly and consider both when someone has received a dual diagnosis of aggravated addictions. Established as a concept more than 30 years ago, dual diagnosis describes a person with a mental illness and a substance use disorder.

To help professionals plan, organize and provide services to people with dual diagnosis, an information manual was published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2002. It is also important to note that arbitrarily stopping medication or treatment is a common reason for relapse in people with co-occurring disorders.

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