Opioid dependence in general practice

Pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence is usually prescribed in the community by trained general practitioners (GPs) or nurse practitioners. GPs play a key role in preventing, identifying and managing patients with opioid dependence.

The Victorian DHHS Policy for Maintenance Pharmacotherapy for Opioid Dependence outlines that any GP is able to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®) for up to five patients for the treatment of opioid dependence, without completing formal training.

A 16 minute video and 4 page guide are available to support GPs with prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone.



Supports for GPs

RACGP Victoria provides free accredited pharmacotherapy training for GPs, and the Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network offers an array of free support to GPs and Nurse Practitioners who manage patients with opioid dependence.

Contact us at or 0428 785 371 for a brochure outlining the available supports.


Accredited training for GPs

Accredited training is available at RACGP Victoria and provides GPs and Nurse Practitioners with the skills to better manage patients with opioid dependence and the accreditation to prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone for more than five patients, or methadone for any patient.   This training is called Medication Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence (MATOD) training and consists of two parts:

  1. Module 1: A two-hour online training, also titled Safer Opioid Prescribing, available here.  This training is focused on evidence-based practice and consultation approaches that help prevent, recognise and manage problems arising from opioid prescribing.  It can be completed at any time, as a stand-along module or as part of the two-part MATOD training.
  2. Module 2: Part A (two hour online) and Part B (four hour face-to-face)
    In Part A, participants will learn about opioid use disorder and the pharmacology of buprenorphine and methadone.  Part B is a four-hour interactive face-to-face session with case based discussions, presented by MATOD specialist GPs.

2020 dates for Module 2 Part B (face-to-face):
Saturday 22nd February – RACGP House, 100 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne
Sunday 22nd March – Sale (venue TBC)
Saturday 18th April – Ringwood (venue TBC)
Sunday 24th May – Geelong (venue TBC)
Saturday 20th June – Frankston (venue TBC)
Sunday 26th July – Ararat (venue TBC)
Sunday 15th August – RACGP House, 100 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

Click here to register or contact RACGP Program Coordinator Kerrianne Singleton on or 8699 0468.


GP Mentoring

Peer-based support and mentoring is available for GPs via phone, email or face-to-face. This may include advice about:

  • How to diagnose opioid dependence and initiate a patient on pharmacotherapy
  • Writing a buprenorphine/naloxone script and applying for a permit
  • How to prepare management plans, making the most of medicare billing

Contact us to connect with your local GP mentor.


Addiction Medicine Specialist support

In addition to the specialist support available 24 hours a day-7 days a week by the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS), clinical advice and secondary consultation is available from a local Addiction Medicine Specialist. This is available via phone, or face-to-face at Small Group Learning meetings (see below for more details).

Contact us to connect with your local Addiction Medicine Specialist.


Paid Clinical Placements

Observe an experienced MATOD prescriber for 3.5 hours while being reimbursed for your time!  Placements are available on any day of the week and are located throughout our catchment. Contact us to find out more.


Small Group Learning meetings

Small Group Learning meetings are RACGP-accredited peer-based educational sessions facilitated by local Addiction Medicine Specialists and address the specific learning needs of participants. They are designed to support pharmacotherapy prescribers in their practice.

Previous sessions have covered topics such as:

  • Codeine rescheduling and SafeScript (real-time prescription monitoring)
  • Review of pharmacotherapy best practice (doses, initiating a patient, length of treatment)
  • Takeaway doses (recent changes to guidelines, assessing stability, communication between prescriber and pharmacist)
  • Complex pharmacotherapy patients (when and where to refer, comorbidities, drug interactions)
  • Pain management in pharmacotherapy patients (acute and chronic)

Meetings are held bi-monthly in Box Hill, Bayside and Frankston-Mornington. Contact us to find out more.


GP education at your clinic:
De-mystifying Opioid Replacement Therapy

Designed for GPs, this session can be delivered to any of your practice staff to increase their understanding of opioid dependence and its management in the general practice setting.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Overview of Opioid Replacement Therapy / pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence
  • Available Opioid Replacement Therapy agents
  • Steps to prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone
  • Availability of expert support / mentoring GPs
  • Information on clinical handover in the absence of patient’s usual prescriber

RACGP Points

Accredited for 2 Category 2 RACGP QI&CPD Points.

Eastern metropolitan region: Click here to view the flyer and to book your session.
Southern metropolitan region: Click here to view the flyer and to book your sessions.


Whole-of-practice education at your clinic:
Management of Opioid Dependence: Best Practice, Business Model

Upskill your practice team and develop a strategic, efficient and viable business model.  In-house training customised to your availability and needs.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Management of opioid dependence using a chronic disease framework
  • Understanding challenging presentations
  • Responding to codeine rescheduling and SafeScript (real-time prescription monitoring)
  • Implementing effective systems, policies and practice environment
  • Building a treatment team and collaborative partnerships


Anastasia Dimitriou, a Practice Manager experienced in managing general practice pharmacotherapy programs.


This training has been allocated 4 AAPM CPD points by the Australian Association of Practice Management Ltd (AAPM).

Click here to view the flyer and to book your session.


Meducate Opioid Stewardship online modules

Prescription medicines kill more people than the road toll. This statistic reminds us of how opioid stewardship is now as relevant and as necessary as antibiotic stewardship.  This online training identifies three stages in patient care during which opioid prescribing can be an issue:

-Initiation of opioids in acute pain
-Initiation of opioids in chronic pain
-Management of patients already prescribed high dose opioids

Click here to access the free online Meducate Opioid Stewardship modules.

This training module is funded by the Victorian Pharmacotherapy Area-Based Networks.


Community of Practice events

A4PN Community of Practice events are multi-disciplinary educational events with expert speakers, including local Addiction Medicine Specialists, presenting on current topics.  These events are a fantastic opportunity for cross-sector networking and continuing professional development.

See the Training & Events page for upcoming Community of Practice events.

Contact for more information or sign up to the SEMPHN and EMPHN newsletters to receive details of upcoming events.