What support services are available?

Mental health and social services

When seeking help from mental health and social services, it is best to explain as much as you can about your circumstances. This allows them to make a full assessment of your needs, including social needs such as housing, employment and benefits, and refer you towards help with those these.

If you have severe mental health problems and problematic substance misuse (see ‘Dual diagnosis’), the Department of Health recommends that mental health services should be responsible for your treatment, rather than drug and alcohol services.

One of the biggest problems for people with dual diagnosis is finding somewhere to live. Many housing agencies and supported housing trusts will not accept drug users. However, a number of housing associations and trusts have begun to provide suitable support schemes.

You may find going to a self-help group useful. At a self-help group, you can talk about your mental health problems and drug use with other people who are having similar experiences. There are many organisations that run self-help groups, including some local Mind organisations (See ‘Useful contacts’).

Support in the criminal justice system

If you have been in contact with the criminal justice system in association with your use of drugs, this should not make any difference to the type of treatments 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.

Drug and alcohol support services

You may be offered help from drug and alcohol support services to encourage you to stop taking drugs. This usually means you are allocated a support worker and receive quite intensive one-to-one support.

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