Dual diagnosis

(Co-existing mental health and substance misuse)

What is it?

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe co-existing mental health and alcohol and drug misuse problems. It is also called dual disorder or co-morbidity.

Drug and alcohol use may cause problems for some people. Exactly how it affects someone will depend on the person, the drugs which are used and how they are taken.

Dual diagnosis is common, with between a third and a half of people accessing mental health services having co-existing mental health and alcohol and drug problems at some time in their lives.

How do we know it's happening?

It is often very difficult to say whether alcohol and drug use causes mental health problems or vice versa. They often both develop over a period of time. Some of the negative experiences can be similar, such as lowering mood, anxiety or feeling paranoid.

Using alcohol and drugs, if you have underlying mental health problems, can increase the chance of both becoming a problem. It can be difficult to know exactly how your mental health and alcohol and drug use impact on each other, so both should to be given equal importance in treatment.

What we offer

Because dual diagnosis is common, AWP does not have a specific dual diagnosis service. If you have a dual diagnosis, this will be treated alongside your mental health difficulties, either by the mental health team itself or jointly with local alcohol and drug services, embracing a recovery approach.


An individualised support and treatment plan will be collaboratively written and delivered. This may include some of the following interventions

  • Providing information to individuals, carers and families as to the effects of alcohol and drug use on mental and physical health
  • Stabilising mental health problems, with prescribed medication and/or talking therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or anxiety management
  • Supporting and developing skills which will enable you to manage or reduce alcohol and drug use
  • Increasing motivation to change alcohol and drug misuse
  • Providing support to develop alternative social networks and develop other interests and activities
  • Providing detoxification or stabilisation from the alcohol or drugs used
  • Addressing underlying issues which may maintain alcohol and drug use
  • Providing a risk management plan to reduce risks and harms to the person or others
  • Accessing alcohol and drug services and/or self-help groups.


If you would like any additional information about AWP's support and treatment for people who have dual diagnosis please contact Richard Edwards on 01225 362 728.

In an emergency, please contact your GP or local Accident and Emergency Department.

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