Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services support those with common mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, both closely linked to alcohol misuse - however IAPT services are not typically required or trained to work with drug and alcohol issues.
The guide was therefore developed to support IAPT workers to work confidently and inclusively with those who have common mental health problems and non-severe drug or alcohol problems. It explains how simple assessment can identify IAPT clients whom will be suitable for brief interventions for their drug or alcohol misuse.
Routine assessment or 'identification' of current use of drugs and alcohol is recommended for all IAPT clients. Many of the general cognitive and behavioural techniques used by psychological therapy workers are transferable to working with drug or alcohol use, where a non-judgemental approach should be maintained.
The guide highlights that substance misuse clients with mental health problems should have access to NICE-recommended psychological interventions, including CBT for depression and anxiety. It states there is no evidence that substance misuse per se makes key psychological therapies ineffective. Between 70 and 80 per cent of clients in drug and alcohol services have common mental health problems, largely anxiety, depression and trauma.
However the guide highlights the expertise available within drug and alcohol treatment services to provide evidence-based psychological interventions for mental health issues will often be limited. IAPT services may therefore crucially provide one of the only local resources for clients of drug and alcohol services to access psychological therapies for common mental health problems.
Find out more on IAPT services here. For further information on mental health see NHS Choices mental health pages, MIND, the Mental Health Foundation or Centre for Mental Health. The Samaritans offer a 24/7 confidential support service for anyone experiencing feelings of distress or despair.