Substance use amongst inpatients on mental health wards: practical guide for mental health services

Guidance for NHS health boards providing inpatient mental health services on responding to substance use on mental health wards. This should be used in conjunction with existing local guidance for responding to substance use incidents on inpatient wards.

5. Prevention

Every opportunity should be taken to provide access to treatment for people that use substances based on the principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trust and empowerment. During an inpatient stay or during an emergency presentation to mental health services, there may be opportunities to provide support, referral to specialist services and to enable harm reduction. Ensuring patients are being supported with their substance use problems, and identifying those patients who may require additional support to enable engagement with relevant specialist services can be an effective way to manage the use of substances onwards, and should be prioritised.

Opportunities to provide this support should be maximised by staff working across the health and social care spectrum.

Wards should build relationships with the relevant substance use services (including non-statutory services) and ensure that it is clear to all staff how to support a patient with their substance use problem. All staff should be trained and confident to provide support for people with a substance use problem or refer the patient to someone who can.



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