Lack of support for people suffering from a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and mental health difficulties

Aine O'Boyle

DCU researchers have conducted a study on the community impact of Dual Diagnosis, a combination of substance abuse and mental health difficulties. 

The study was carried out in conjunction with the Finglas Addiction Support Team with its purpose being to examine the ways in which Dual Diagnosis can be addressed at both community and organisational level. 

Participants from the communities of Cabra and Finglas were involved in the study, and attended open forums where they shared their personal experiences with the researchers. 

According to DCU researcher and programme chair of the BSc in Mental Health Nursing, Dr Denise Proudfoot: “We were really pleased with the community engagement in both Finglas and Cabra in relation to the topic and study. These are the people who are dealing with the realities of dual diagnosis every day.

“Involving community stakeholders from the outset meant that this research considered their needs in relation to dual diagnosis and identified ways that these communities and local organisations can begin to address this complex issue in tandem with structural and policy changes.”

People Before Profit Councillor, Melissa Halpin said: “It is tragic how the many, many people who suffer from both these diagnoses find it impossible to get the supports they need,

“Often because their problems with addiction can mask an underlying mental health illness and, unfortunately, also because there is sometimes blatant discrimination against those who struggle with addiction.” 

Groups such as Dual Diagnosis Ireland (DDI) have campaigned for a more holistic approach to these issues, working to change the attitudes of individuals and communities alike. 

For Dun Laoghaire woman, Marie O’Keeffe, she soon became aware of the issue of Dual Diagnosis following the death of her son last year. 

Seán O’Keeffe passed away following passed away following an accidental overdose after giving up on health services and going cold turkey from methadone in an attempt to heal himself. 

Speaking of the work of DDI, Marie O’Keeffe said: “Although I was not aware of this organisation previously it highlighted all the difficulties I had experienced in trying to get proper help for my son Sean who lived with me and struggled with severe anxiety,” 

The DCU study on dual diagnosis concluded that the needs of those living with Dual Diagnosis are as complex as those with other health and social issues and that Dual Diagnosis itself has far reaching affects, not only on a personal level, but on a community level too. 


Aine O’Boyle

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