Call for dual diagnosis: Steve tells his story

Steve Thornton, whose experiences helped us form a survey about the support available for recovery from both addiction and mental health, said he was “pushed around the system for many years” before someone finally was able to help him.
Steve Thornton

He drank to help “reset” his brain which would often feel overwhelmed as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) had caused a 'fight or flight' stress response in his system. This repeated response causes high levels of stress hormones, eventually leaving Steve unable to function. 

Steve is telling his story to help other people who might be using addictions as a way of dealing with their mental health problems - and is supporting our recommendation for a dual diagnosis of tackling addictions and mental health at the same time to aid long-term recovery.

He said: “Quite often people have drink or drug addictions which are a symptom of an underlying problem. It is these problems that make them drink. I was feeling overloaded and could barely function. I felt really ill and I used to drink to self-medicate.

Read the full Mental Health Support For People In Recovery For Substance Misuse report here.

The message from health professionals is very much 'get off the drink and we’ll treat you'. But that’s not possible. You can’t treat people like that it should be a dual diagnosis. I happened to see a counsellor at We Are With You (previously AddAction) and they identified some childhood experiences that had caused lasting anxieties. I was able to get medications to help with these and thankfully I don’t need to drink anymore. I feel more relaxed in my own skin.
— Steve Thornton
We will focus on mental heath support for people in recovery, given the recent findings in this Healthwatch report'
— Jo Walker, Chief Executive North Somerset Council Jan 2021

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