Drug & Alcohol services

There is an acknowledged association between mental health problems and drug and alcohol problems. Successful outcomes for both problems need early intervention and effective joint working between drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services in integrated, recovery-oriented local systems.

Between 70 and 80 per cent of clients in drug and alcohol services have common mental health problems, largely anxiety, depression and trauma (Weaver, 2003). The same study also found high levels of drug use and hazardous and harmful drinking in the populations using mental health services. The study concluded that ‘substance misuse services should work more collaboratively with local psychotherapy services and GPs to improve management of co-morbid patients who do not meet the criteria for access to community mental health services’.

The IAPT positive practice guide for working with people who use drugs and alcohol seeks to assist IAPT teams and substance misuse services to work confidently and inclusively with those who have drink or drug problems and common mental health problems. It explains how simple assessment techniques and protocols can identify potential IAPT clients with drink or drug problems. It outlines criteria for deciding whether people with different kinds of drug and alcohol use are suitable for IAPT services. It also summarises how IAPT and substance misuse services can work together more closely to improve outcomes for clients.

Although many IAPT services probably do work closely with local providers of drug and alcohol services, we only came across a few examples:

Bexley work with a number of local community and voluntary sector providers, where the charities provide practical support and IAPT provides the therapy. For example, they work with Pier Road for drug and alcohol abuse.

Talk Wandsworth / Merton Uplift/ Sutton Uplift Wellbeing Service collaborate with partner organisations including drug & alcohol service teams. They offer a variety of psychosocial interventions and wellbeing workshops designed to support specific needs for residents and anyone registered with a GP in the borough – (case study)

The Greater Manchester Working Well programme combines physical and mental health support and advice on drug and alcohol problems, skills, education and housing. Each unemployed person had their own key-worker to help them get the right support at the right time, keep them motivated and develop their confidence and independence.

Drug addiction

NHS page for drug addiction help and support

NHS page outlining support for drugs, drink and mental health in students

Use the FRANK website to find local drug treatment services.

Alcohol misuse

Find a local alcohol service in England

Mutual aid and support groups

Before the COVID-19 epidemic, help and support for recovery from alcohol-related problems took place in the community. But online and phone support has now increased. SMART Recovery helps individuals recover from any addictive behaviour and lead meaningful and satisfying lives.

NHS page for alcohol support

Drinkaware and Alcohol Change provide a range of advice and support to cut down on drinking.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

For members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), recovery is based on coming together with other self-defined alcoholics through working and living a 12-step programme, within a network of meetings, fellowship, sponsorship and recovery friends. Individuals can attend one of the many existing online meetings. Details can be obtained by calling the 24-hour helpline – 0800 917 7650. There is also a list of AA meetings provided which can be accessed remotely via the internet.

Other useful organisations