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Addiction in Psychiatry

Man Laying down with woman reading book behind him

Drug usage is currently extremely high and it is particularly prevalent amongst those suffering from mental health conditions. Despite this, many healthcare workers are not trained to recognise the signs of substance misuse and are often unaware of how to treat this distinctive patient group appropriately. 

Psychiatric patients who use drugs are much less likely to respond positively to standard treatment and there are important considerations that must be addressed in the delivery of care. Therefore, it is crucial that healthcare workers understand drug use, addiction, and the role they can play in patients with multiple morbidities.

This module explains everything you need to know about addiction in psychiatry:

Addiction in Psychiatry

In this module, you will learn the distinctive features of patients who use drugs, as well as the substance-specific signs of drug intoxication and withdrawal, and the barriers to detection, recognition and access.

We'll explain the process of screening for drug use and go through detailed guidance on how to assess the impact that drug use has on an individual's physical, mental and social health.

We'll then provide guidance on how to treat substance misuse, and how to adapt treatment plans to best suit patients who use drugs.

Using a series of case studies, you'll learn how this applies to patients of psychiatric treatment so that when you need to work with a patient who uses drugs, you'll know what to do.

Screening & Assessment Tools

Having learnt how to screen and assess patients for substance use in the 'Addiction in Psychiatry' module, you can now use these tools to assess and screen for substance use in both adult and geriatric patients.

About this module

The Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA) is very happy to have worked with Drug Science in 2020 and 2021 to develop and update this slide series for use in medical education. Medical practitioners are often the first people to come into contact with people who use substances, and it is vital that those practitioners are able to provide a positive response and to deliver evidence-based interventions from that first moment and all the way through to the end of that person’s care.

These slides are primarily for use in medical education settings but have been carefully designed to ensure that they are accessible for a wide range of people. They will therefore provide a rapid overview for medical students and other healthcare professionals. They are free to use; the aim of both organisations is to optimise dissemination of research into practice, so if these slides are of use to you, please use them. If you have any queries, please contact Drug Science or SSA through their websites and we will be glad to answer your questions.

The project has used the extensive knowledge and expertise of Drug Science and the SSA to develop these up-to-date, evidence based and accessible resources. We hope you enjoy them.

The SSA’s aim is to broaden and promote the scientific understanding of addiction. We particularly aim to advocate for the use of research evidence in policy and practice.

The SSA was founded in 1884 as the ‘Society for the Study and Cure of Inebriety’ and is the oldest organisation of its type in the UK. The SSA disseminates research through the journals Addiction and Addiction Biology, through its Annual Conference, through its website ( and social media, and by supporting third-party projects and conferences. The society funds PhDs, academic fellowships, travelling fellowships, post-doctoral studies, and offers bursaries to improve access to training and education in addiction.

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