Ben discusses his experience of co-occurring issues and why he believes joined up services are vital.

Good morning, Ben. Morning. What has been your experience of seeking support as someone with co occurring mental health and substance issues? Well, it's a big one to answer, I suppose. I've been using alcohol since I was

Well, first of all, I'm a bit of an alcoholic. I love booze. Who loves me? I have an addictive personality

So it can be Chocolate can be Pepsi. It can be anything. Got to watch that

So I started using it when I was 14 and then decided to do something about it. About four years ago, I moved away from Bridgend Services and then into Cardiff and Vale Services. And what a difference that was the right doctors were there the right consultants, the right psychiatrists in Bridgend

They had nothing, really. They have a place called art, which is a waste of time. Um, and for me, it was confusing because the same as most people

You go to the doctor. First of all, you ask the doctor for advice, whether you want to quit smoking or give up the drink and so on. So I'd say the first point of call is the doctor, but it would have been easier for me instead of being referred by the doctor to mind, then mind to recovery Camry and then to a clinic called Neurons in Barry, where they give you anti views

If you choose to go on that sort of line so you don't relapse or lapse at all because you've made a final decision that is no longer needed in your life. Um, and it was being bounced from pillar to post and then when he went back to the first point of code to the doctor because he'd already dealt with it, they just wave you away. You need some diazepines

So you've already been invited to services. You're known by services, and then when you need to change, maybe some medication or you automatically go back to the doctor. But when you become under mental Health Team of Barry, for instance, I don't know much about Cardiff, But you end up having a consultant, and as soon as that consultant takes over your care of treating you for mental health, then the problem is, if you go back to the doctor, you won't do anything

It just passes about when you go back to the mental health doctor that you're seeing or consultant in Barry. They pass them back back to the doctor. So there needs to be something called a name for this organisation that merges everything into one, and they can deal with any substance misuse of any kind

They also have counselling there. They also have work coaches. You need to get back to work

They also have to have. These are just a few ideas. It needs to be the complete package, but it also needs to be accessed in a very simple and easiest way

These people who are suffering from substance misuse nine times out of 10, they're only five per cent a week and 10 a day. It's very confusing to even find out how to make an appointment to see a doctor at that stage, especially if a bloke and you don't really go to the doctors because we don't like that sort of thing. I think I think for me, the most important thing is to have a place and a name exactly like Go to Morrison's Henry

You're starving. You get a free meal, you go to boots and other places. And if the ladies need tamp backs now they can say a certain word

I can't remember what it's called, but you just need a certain phrase or something could be the main name for it all. But it could be something more fun. Yeah, a bit like 108 for instance

Or, you know, it could be Trade Centre, Wales, for your car. We all know those things. It's got to be something that's advertised on television is memorable, and it will access you to all the right services

But then also from my experience, I gave up alcohol and they gave me huge amounts of antidepressants, psychosis, medicine and so on. And for me, they didn't balance that right. I ended up getting very ill and ended up having a complete psychosis breakdown, which lasted for three days and ended up having to go to a hospital and was treated there for three days, as I said and then was allowed out on the fourth back home

But afterwards the service was great because there's a place called Monmouth House in, you know, the Heath Hospital in Cardiff, obviously run by a consultant, Dr Baller. In my case, there was this class That was every day from 10 o'clock till four. Or if you fancy doing an hour or you went there just to play pool, to be with a counsellor or a support worker, and that went on for me for three weeks

But it was made available. Part of me didn't even want to go to it. These guys there, you know, they've been in the some of them 45 years

They come off the floor of the and really highly skilled people. And that lasted for me for two weeks. But then I asked for another week

Now, bear in mind, most people get get a bus, get a train to try and nick a ride off somebody to get to the hospital. Especially if you don't have any of those. And most people wouldn't even bother

But now the providing a taxi that picks you up from the house takes you there and drops you back home. And that taxi driver knows exactly why he has picked you up from the C. And he reports back to say I've dropped him off safely to his house

Or and then he also connects straight back with Monmouth House if there's any other problems or issues. So I thought that, for me was absolutely superb. So say once you've crossed a certain threshold of high level services that they started dealing, you know, like taking you seriously, you support what they were talking about

Highly skilled. One nurse was there 45 years as a chap there who he was. He was a solicitor, and he decided to become a psychologist and a champion for people

And I remember the experience I had was very ill even after hospital. But he sort of tried to normalise me into society by taking me through, walks through the park, taking me out for coffee and getting me used to it again. And that was the best thing anybody's ever done for me because I felt alone after I'd given up the alcohol or the substances

I felt alone before when I was using them, and it was just This part of my life wasn't used to having nothing poison in it, and I needed somebody to show me what life is about, and that for me, was the best thing. The most important thing. I think you can get from this video is that people can get better, but you have to provide the right services, and it's got to be all linked together

It can't be running over Timothy to borrow from Paul, and then it all goes wrong because you got to go back to Timothy. And Paul doesn't know what he's talking about. There's got to be one database and one help

Yeah, I feel the frustration with Pillar to post, and then it was incredible. I have so many telephone numbers, so much little bits of homework to do, obviously, to monitor my own behaviour, to understand who I am and what my needs were every day. And also, when you're taking substances, you tend not to look after yourself

Your health goes downhill. You're not eating right and things your brain's not working properly. You really are

If you look at it in intensive care, you need intensive care and you need this one body to look after you all. Some of the first steps are the hardest for a human being to go through when they're sort of that broken, and that low and just starting to reach out could be agoraphobic or paranoid, not used to being around people. Group work could be so difficult to deal with mentally

Do you relate to any of that stuff? I do. I think the main thing about when you decide it can be my choice was I decided I do not want alcohol in my system anymore. So I made that little call to the doctor

Took me about a day, two days to even get the phone answered because the doctors are neither here nor there. But the initial thing was making the decision myself. I mean, not everybody can do that, but if they're invited to a service, they could be, you know, sessions for people to help them make that decision so that they can use the services and actually have a life at the end of it

Well, congratulations, Ben, that you've done well. Sounds like you've been on a journey. Thank you

Thanks. Thank you.

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