Dave Laudat told the opening of Drug Awareness month 2010 that substance abuse and mental illness go hand in hand.
“Substance abuse can lead to mental illness and mental illness can lead to substance abuse. There is an increase of persons admitted to the unit who are substance abusers. We are seeing an increasing number of persons being admitted out of psychosis due to substance abuse. We are talking about just the use of drugs and the effect that it has on persons…they get out of touch with reality, being a threat to themselves hence they have to be admitted,” he said.
According to Laudat, mentally ill persons who use drugs will be readmitted more often and have worst outcomes in terms of their functionality, legal status and relationships.
Meantime, Laudat says the stigmatization of mentally ill patients by the community further encourages substance abuse.
“The fact that we still remain highly discriminative against persons with mental illness, the fact that persons are marginalized and opportunities are not afforded to them because of their mental illness; persons who are mentally ill find themselves more readily accepted into society if they are told that they are a ‘paro’ rather than a mental illness. Persons who are mentally ill will naturally gravitate towards drug use as a form of identity,” Laudat explained.
He said treatment continues to be a problem in Dominica. “It is not that persons in authority have refused to provide treatment, but it takes a lot of resources. We have talked about this at every level. I can say that government have shown interest in getting a treatment facility and I am sure that more will be done in that regard,” he said.
He said the staff of the Unit is ready to work towards getting that facility underway because with treatment such persons will have a better chance at rehabilitation.