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The co-existence of psychiatric disorders and substance misuse: working with dual diagnosis patients


  • Mike Gafoor MSc RMN RGN Diploma in Addictive Behaviour,

    1. Chief Executive, Addiction Counselling Trust, Aylesbury,
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  • Hussein Rassool MSc BA RMN FETC RCNT RNT Cert Ed. Cert in Supervision & Consultation

    1. Senior Lecturer in Addictive Behaviour & Nursing, Faculty of Healthcare Science, St George’s Hospital Medical School (University of London), London, England
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Mike Gafoor Addiction Counselling Trust, Tindal Cottage, Bierton Road, Aylesbury, HP20 IEV, England.


The co-existence of substance misuse and psychiatric disorders is often referred to by the term ‘dual diagnosis’. The health-related problems associated with dual diagnosis has received growing attention by clinicians and researchers alike. Severely mentally ill patients who misuse drugs (prescribed and illicit) or alcohol have complex health and social needs. Mental health nurses have a key role to play in the early recognition and management of this group of patients. This paper examines the nature and extent of dual diagnosis and its implications for mental health nurses. It also addresses treatment strategies that are required to meet the needs of this cohort of patients.