A GP guide to treating opioid addiction

Pharmacotherapy for drug dependence doesn't have to be in the 'too-hard basket' - rather, it's a useful skill that will enable you to deliver holistic care.

Need to know:

  • About 110,000 Australians are opioid-dependent, and approximately 50,000 people receive treatment for opioid dependence each day.
  • Long-term treatment with methadone or buprenorphine improves overall mortality and reduces morbidity in patients who have opioid dependence.
  • Being able to prescribe opioid replacement therapy (ORT) is a useful skill for all GPs and can be part of holistic care for patients.
  • Each state and territory has specific rules and regulations about how to become a prescriber, and about how many patients you can prescribe for without accreditation. Don’t let the rules put you off — this is a life-saving treatment for patients.
  • Every patient who is at risk of opioid overdose should be prescribed naloxone to keep on hand in case of an overdose emergency.
  • A good working relationship between the GP and pharmacist is key to successful pharmacotherapy, as initially, the