Catching Up (Alcohol, Drug and Mental Illness)

Alcohol, Drug and Mental Illness Information for Spanish Speakers Living in Australia

Problems with alcohol, drugs and mental illness

Where a person has two or more illnesses or disorders at the same time such as alcohol and drug and mental illness this commonly known as ‘dual diagnosis’. The type of drugs can be both legal and illegal.

The co-occurrence of a mental illness and substance abuse problem can occur in all communities.

What can cause dual diagnosis?

  • Coping with difficult life changes such as migration and settlement.
  • Impact of stress and trauma.
  • Substance abuse might influence or increase symptoms of mental illness.
  • A person with a mental illness may misuse drugs to help cope with an illness or side effects of medication, or to feel confident around other people.
  • A person with a mental illness may misuse drugs to feel good, to belong to a group, to escape boredom or to help sleep.

What are some common characteristics of dual diagnosis?

It is important to notice when someone’s behaviour begins to change. Here are some characteristics that might inform and alert you:

  • Feelings of depression, anger or mood swings.
  • Difficulties getting organised.
  • Relationship problems and isolation.
  • Accommodation issues (homelessness or regularly moving from one place to another).
  • Increased criminal activity.
  • Demonstration of poorer physical health and self –care.
  • Lack of social support.
  • Financial issues.
  • Suicidal thinking or self-harm.
  • Relapsing to substance use.
  • Increased hospital admissions.
  • Resistance to or non-compliance with treatment and recovery programs
*Someone with depression or anxiety may overuse alcohol to cope with the challenges they face. Alternatively, cannabis use might increase the risk of a psychotic episode in someone who is already vulnerable to psychosis.

Young people and dual diagnosis

Young people from culturally diverse backgrounds are at increased risk of developing psychological and substance-use problems due to diverse issues combined with the changes and challenges of adolescence.

Women and dual diagnosis

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety and are at higher risk of dual diagnosis if they have bipolar disorder, different from men.

Someone I love is showing signs of dual diagnosis.  What should I do?

  • Do not blame yourself or the person suffering from dual diagnosis.
  • Try and talk to the person about how they are feeling.
  • Let them know you are worried and that they can talk to you.
  • Encourage your loved one to speak to a professional for help. Offer to go with them support.
  • If a person is reluctant to seek help, visit the doctor yourself for advice.

When should you seek help?

You should talk to your loved one or encourage them to see a doctor if you start noticing the following signs:

  • They stop talking to family or friends.
  • They become afraid or suspicious for no reason.
  • They sleep poorly or are often awake all night.
  • They develop strange ideas.
  • They hear voices no one else can hear.
  • They are less motivated, more irritable, anxious and aggressive.
  • They are regularly getting into trouble with the law.
  • They have difficulty concentrating.
  • They say or write things that don’t make sense.
  • They abuse drugs or alcohol.
*It is important to remember that professionals are there to help you, not judge you, and they are required to keep you information confidential.

Where to get help in English?

Emergency Department Public or Private Hospital

LIFELINE: 131114-24 hr. Crisis line and support

MINGARY 03 9654 5120 Psychological Services. *Only English

BEYOND BLUE 1300 22 4636 – 24 hr. - Prevención del suicidio, apoyo a la salud mental, consejos para familias y amigos. *Only English.



¿Dónde encontrar ayuda en español?

Su médico general

DIRECTLINE: 1800 888 236 - 24 h. Asesoría confidencial sobre alcohol y drogas y servicio de remisión. * Ofrecen intérpretes.

INFORMACIÓN SOBRE DROGAS: 1300 858 584 - Información para cuidadores en diferentes idiomas.

SANE: 1800 187 263 Información sobre tratamientos de salud mental, síntomas, apoyo y ayuda para cuidadores. Información disponible en otros idiomas.

MOMENTUM 03 9973 7685 Psicología y servicios de asesoramiento, grupos de apoyo y talleres. *Spanish speaking workers

VIDA PSYCHOLOGY 0403 955 129 Servicios de apoyo psicológico para depresión, estrés, trauma y otros. * Spanish speaking workers

CLAUDIA DEVORA 0433 588 133 Asesoramiento de servicios de apoyo en inglés y español.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS 03 9429 1833 or 1300 222 222 Apoyo a la comunidad frente al abuso de sustancias, servicio de referencia y soporte emocional. 03 9429 1833 or 1300 222 222 *Spanish speaking workers