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Dual Diagnosis

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis describes patients with both a mental illness and problematic drug and/or alcohol use. Personality disorders might also co-exist with a psychiatric illness and/or substance misuse. The phrase was coined in the USA back in the 1980s but has since been adopted in the UK.

The symptoms of drug or alcohol misuse can be very similar to the symptoms of mental illness, and vice versa, and they frequently co-exist. This can make it difficult to make a confident dual diagnosis.

People with dual diagnosis have complex health, social, economic and emotional needs. Drugs can make a mental illness worse in the long-term and make it harder for doctors to treat. Efforts to provide support for individuals with a dual diagnosis present a major challenge but help is available.

Alcohol and depression

Alcoholism can share similar hallmarks to depression. If you drink heavily and regularly there is a likelihood that you will develop some symptoms of depression. Habitual drinking lowers your brain’s levels of serotonin – the chemical that helps regulate your moods.

According to Drinkaware, people who experience anxiety or depression are twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers. For some their anxiety or depression came first and alcohol was their solution. For others, drinking happened first and could have caused their anxieties.

What help is available?

In some areas, specialist teams already exist to tackle the specific needs of those with dual diagnosis. Certain treatment centres specialise in dual diagnosis and have the relevant expertise needed to treat these complex issues.

The right help, at the right time

Port of Call can help you access the most appropriate care for dual diagnosis. We will give you a free and confidential assessment over the telephone and can then help you to navigate towards the most appropriate course of treatment and support. Please call our free phone line on 0800 002 9010 we are ready and willing to help you.

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