Key messages

  • Pharmacotherapy is one of the six treatment streams available for clients receiving alcohol and other drug treatment services in Victoria.
  • Pharmacotherapy is usually prescribed in the community by general practitioners or nurse practitioners who have been trained and accredited to prescribe. Trained community-based pharmacists usually dispense pharmacotherapy.
  • Clients can access pharmacotherapy through DirectLine, catchment-based intake services, other treatment providers and primary care providers.
  • Specialist pharmacotherapy services are available for people with complex medical, psychiatric or psychological problems.

About pharmacotherapy

‘Pharmacotherapy’ is the term used to describe the use of medication (such as methadone, buprenorphine) to assist in the treatment of opioid addiction.

The Victorian pharmacotherapy system consists of community-based pharmacotherapy providers and specialist pharmacotherapy services. For example, a prescription for methadone may be prescribed by a general practitioner and this drug will be dispensed to the client by a trained pharmacist.

Accessing pharmacotherapy

Catchment-based intake services support people to access pharmacotherapy by providing referrals to approved pharmacotherapy providers and pharmacists. This involves making direct contact on behalf of the client.

People can also seek pharmacotherapy through primary care providers.

Pharmacotherapy service providers

Specialist pharmacotherapy services (SPS)

Specialist pharmacotherapy services (SPS) provide a consultative service to prescribers seeking expert opinion about managing patients with complex psychiatric, social, medical or treatment problems. Prescribers can refer patients by contacting one of the five SPSs in Melbourne.