Recognise addiction and substance misuse in mental health service treatment

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My Dad has severe, long-term mental health issues. He is also dependent on alcohol and prescription medication. The drafting of this petition follows an extremely distressing weekend, during which he was on the brink of suicide necessitating treatment in A&E. In a scenario my family has endured countless times, he was deemed fit for discharge after only a few hours despite begging for help. We feel completely trapped and unheard.

There are thousands of people like my Dad in this position. Presenting with an initial diagnosis of substance misuse, their other conditions in need of treatment (such as depression and anxiety) are overlooked. Research shows that 84% of alcohol and mental health professionals agree that having an alcohol use disorder is a barrier to getting any kind of mental health support.

There is currently a massive gap between the mental health services and substance misuse treatment in this country. Many have sadly lost loved ones to substance misuse because the system has failed to address their complex, co-morbid needs. If I can’t get the help that my Dad deserves, then I am least going to try to make a difference for all those in his position.

My petition objective is simple – to get a proper psychiatric diagnosis for my father, and for others too, that recognises patients’ relationships with alcohol and drug dependency. We must address, and seek to understand better, the relationship between substance misuse and mental health issues, and dissolve the stigma attached to people with co-occurring problems, challenging professionals' attitudes and public opinion more broadly.

If anyone recognizes themselves or a loved one in our story, this is a plea to them to join me in making enough noise to bring about change to what I believe is a deeply flawed system.