The role of pharmacists in opioid dependence
Pharmacists play a crucial role in the management of patients with opioid dependence.
Providing pharmacotherapy is professionally rewarding and allows pharmacists to make a significant contribution to their patients’ quality of life.
Pharmacists who provide pharmacotherapy:
- Build long-term relationships with patients and actively engage in their recovery
- Participate in clinical decisions through regular collaboration with prescribers
- Develop skills and knowledge around substance misuse, such as for over-the-counter codeine analgesics, including early identification of patients at risk of opioid dependence
- Have a strong understanding of local referral pathways and ancillary services
Supports for pharmacists
- Accredited Pharmacotherapy Training for Pharmacists
- Setting up pharmacotherapy services in your pharmacy
- Community of Practice (CoP) events
- Small Group Learning sessions
- Other available training
Accredited Pharmacotherapy Training for Pharmacists
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is the approved pharmacotherapy training provider for pharmacists.
Training is free for all pharmacists (members and non-members of PSA) as well as pharmacy assistants. It consists of two parts and is available online or face-to-face.
Setting up pharmacotherapy services in your pharmacy
A4PN provides assistance with all stages of pharmacotherapy program implementation, including advice regarding:
- Setting up a pharmacotherapy program in your pharmacy
- Required training, education and Department of Health and Human Services approval
- Required equipment, consumables, dosing records and processes
- Complex patients and unusual scenarios
A detailed guide to setting up pharmacotherapy in the pharmacy is also available at https://westvic.healthpathways.org.au/ under Mental Health > Alcohol and Drugs > Opioid Pharmacotherapy Dispensing – Information for Pharmacists.
Contact A4PN@semphn.org.au for more information and support.
Community of Practice events
A4PN’s 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.
Small Group Learning meetings
A4PN Small Group Learning meetings are peer-based educational sessions facilitated by local pharmacists experienced in providing pharmacotherapy. They address the specific learning needs of participants and are designed to support pharmacists in their practice.
Previous sessions have covered topics such as:
- 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)
- Managing over-the-counter codeine requests (treatment options for codeine-dependent patients, how to engage when identified as dependent, where to refer)
- Naloxone (availability, guidelines and counselling points)
- Managing challenging behaviours in the pharmacy (de-escalation of aggression, communication strategies)
Contact A4PN@semphn.org.au to find out more about your local Small Group Learning.
Other available training
Safer Opioid Prescribing – online training for GPs, also accessible to pharmacists