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.  However,  training is available via 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.   A 16 minute video and 4 page guide are available to help GPs with prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone.

Free support is available from the Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network, outlined below.


Free GP support and education

The Area 4 Pharmacotherapy Network offers a variety of free support to GPs and Nurse Practitioners who manage patients with opioid dependence.  Contact us via email or on 0428 785 371 for a one-page flyer which summarises the available supports and provides direct access to a local GP Mentor and Addiction Medicine Specialist for clinical advice and secondary consultation.

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 provided 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).

Contact us to connect with your local Addiction Medicine Specialist.


Paid Clinical Placements

Sit in with an experienced local prescriber for 3.5 hours while being reimbursed for your time!  Contact us to find out more.


Small Group Learning meetings

Small Group Learning meetings (SGLs) 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.

General Practice in-house education and training

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.


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 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.


Community of Practice events

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

Recent topics have included:

  • Codeine Rescheduling: Practical tips for GP, pharmacy and practice readiness
  • Real-time Prescription Monitoring: Challenges and opportunities
  • Revised Policy for Maintenance Pharmacotherapy for Opioid Dependence
  • Benzodiazepine reduction programs in general practice

See our 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.