Dual diagnosis

Topic Selected: Mental Health

General Article icon Type: General Article

What does dual diagnosis mean?

It is a relatively new term originating from the States that describes people who are diagnosed as having problematic drug use or alcohol abuse and a serious mental illness (often schizophrenia). This can take two forms:

  • Those who have firstly been diagnosed with a serious mental health problem who are later also found to be using recreational drugs that may have an adverse effect on their illness; for example, a schizophrenic who takes speed. Their drug-induced psychosis may well mask real mental health problems. One UK study found that 40% of people with schizophrenia also abused drugs/alcohol.
  • Those who have been diagnosed with drug dependency which triggers/leads to a later diagnosis of a mental health problem. This is more likely with excessive use of stimulants (speed, coke and crack).

More recently the term ‘complex needs’ has begun to be used to describe the social needs of someone

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