The Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 does not define the term drug-dependent persons. It refers instead to when a practitioner has reason to believe a patient is a drug-dependent person, such as one or more of the following:

  • admitted current misuse or abuse of pharmaceutical drugs or illicit drugs
  • prescription shopping or obtaining prescription drugs from illicit sources
  • physical signs of intravenous drug use
  • forging prescriptions or obtaining drugs of dependence by false representation
  • multiple unsanctioned dose escalations of prescribed drugs
  • being treated with opioid replacement therapy for opioid dependence.

The term drug of dependence is used to describe Schedule 8 medicines plus some Schedule 4 and Schedule 3 medicines that are subject to misuse and trafficking.

These medicines must be stored securely to prevent unauthorised access. Appropriate records must also be kept. Medical practitioners and clinic staff should be aware of scams that are commonly used, and should report any suspicious behaviour to the department.