Substance misuse an increasing problem on acute psychiatric wards in Glasgow

Substance misuse is an increasing problem on acute psychiatric wards in Glasgow, according to a new study.

It is already known that substance misuse is a common problem on acute psychiatric wards in the UK, and leads to disruption for patients and staff alike. Whilst having an agreed policy on how to deal with ward substance misuse might be expected to help guide staff, evidence suggests that existing policies are often inconsistent in application.

Difficulties are compounded by the finding that health care staff often hold negative views towards substance misusers, and have had little formal training in substance misuse. In the light of these findings, the authors of this study investigated the extent and impact of substance misuse on acute psychiatric wards in Glasgow.

A two-part questionnaire survey was sent to all psychiatric wards (17) in Glasgow. Part one assessed staff perceptions of substance misuse and substance misuse policies on acute psychiatric wards. Part two involved prospective recording of substance misuse-related incidents on each ward over a one-month period.

It was found that substance misuse was perceived as an increasing problem. Most wards had substance misuse policies that staff believed should be more restrictive. There was no clear agreement about the prevention and management of substance misuse on acute wards.

89 misuse-related incidents were recorded over one month. These included intoxication, possession, supply, verbal and physical aggression and coercion. Incidents increased midweek. There was a clear discrepancy between ward policy and practical management of substance misuse-related incidents.

The authors conclude that clear policies are needed to manage substance misuse on acute wards, especially for detained and acutely ill patients.

For further information from the College, contact Deborah Hart or Thomas Kennedy in the External Affairs Department. Tel: 020 7235 2351 exts. 127 or 154. E-mail: [email protected].

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