Explains the mental health effects of recreational drugs, what might happen if you use recreational drugs and also have a mental health problem, and suggestions for where to find support.
If you have severe mental health problems and problematic substance misuse, you may be given what is known as a 'dual diagnosis' – when both problems are diagnosed.
If you have a dual diagnosis, a range of services can help you:
Important: if you have a dual diagnosis, mental health services should be responsible for your treatment, rather than drug or alcohol services.
They should be able to refer you for help you with:
The professionals will need to make a full assessment of your needs, so tell them as much as you can about your circumstances.
If you find it difficult to get the support you need, you may find an advocate helpful.
If you have dual diagnosis, finding somewhere to live can be very difficult. Many housing agencies and supported housing trusts will not accept drug users.
However, a number of housing associations and trusts do provide suitable schemes. See Housing and mental health for further information.
If you have been in contact with the criminal justice system linked to your drug use, this should not make any difference to the type of treatment you are offered.
If you are in prison, you may be offered a ‘therapeutic community’, developed to help people with drug problems in a prison environment.
You may be offered help from drug and alcohol support services to encourage you to stop taking drugs or alcohol. This usually means you are allocated a support worker, and receive quite intensive one-to-one support.
The programmes recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) are:
If stopping alcohol, you are likely to be admitted to hospital because stopping suddenly after a long period of heavy drinking is dangerous. You may also be given medication to treat withdrawal symptoms – this may be an antipsychotic, a benzodiazepine or a combination.
Watch Jonny's vlog on how he has coped with biploar and alcoholism.
This information was published in November 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.