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

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.

Visit the PSA website or contact for information about upcoming training sessions.

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’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.

Contact for more information or sign up to the SEMPHN and EMPHN newsletters to receive details of upcoming 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 to find out more about your local Small Group Learning.

Other available training

Safer Opioid Prescribing – online training for GPs, also accessible to pharmacists