Dual Diagnosis describes people who have mental health problems and drug or alcohol problems. The mental health problems may include schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or Personality Disorder.

Having a mental health diagnosis significantly increases your risk of misusing alcohol and drugs. Research carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatry (2002) found that people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are more likely to misuse alcohol. They are also 6 times more likely to use street drugs (Chrome, 2003).

The following psychiatric problems are common in dual diagnosis:

  • Depressive disorder such as depression and bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and phobias
  • Other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and Personality Disorders.

Many of us use legal drugs like caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol without much thought. Their use is socially acceptable and, in some circumstances, encouraged. For some, the misuse of some drugs (i.e. use that is problematic or which leads to harmful behaviour) can also act as a contributory factor to the development of a mental illness.


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