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


Download our Pharmacy support flyer here where you can learn about:

  • how we can support you
  • 10 Tips on running an effective pharmacotherapy program.


Supports for pharmacists


Accredited Pharmacotherapy Training for Pharmacists

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is the approved pharmacotherapy training provider for pharmacists.

The aim of PSA’s Victorian Opioid Pharmacotherapy Program is to provide pharmacists and pharmacy support staff with the relevant knowledge, skills and tools required to identify those who would benefit from pharmacotherapy, engage in a discussion of the benefits of the program in a non-stigmatising manner and deliver a safe and consumer focused Opioid Replacement Therapy service in their pharmacy.

This is a Victorian State Government funded program and is FREE to all pharmacists and pharmacy staff in Victoria, regardless of membership with the PSA.

Click here to enroll or to find out more.


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 under Mental Health > Alcohol and Drugs > Opioid Pharmacotherapy Dispensing – Information for Pharmacists.

Contact for more information and support.


Community of Practice events

A4PN Community of Practice events are multi-disciplinary educational events with current topics and expert speakers, including local Addiction Medicine Specialists.  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. During COVID-19, meetings are held virtually.

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


Peer Group Learning meetings

A4PN Peer 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 to find out more about your local Peer Group Learning.


Other available training

Buprenorphine-naloxone – Safe Prescribing – online training for GPs, also accessible to pharmacists