Treatment and support

Providing flexible treatment and support options for people who are dependent on opioids is an important way to reduce harms related to opioid use [35303]. Treatment approaches will vary according to stage of life, cultural needs and risk factors.

There are different types of treatment options for people who want to reduce or stop using opioids. Detoxification and withdrawal management can be provided while people are still living in the community [23509]. Residential rehabilitation programs can be effective for people who have complex needs and may be experiencing physical and mental health difficulties [35303]. The outcomes for clients in withdrawal management and residential rehabilitation are improved if accompanied by good aftercare and follow up support. Counselling is also helpful to people who are in early stages of dependent use, and support groups such as Smart Recovery help people to maintain their health gains and prevent relapse [23509][35303].

The main pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence is opioid agonist treatment (OAT) [35303].  OAT refers to long-term treatment approaches that involve the regular provision of long-acting opioid medicine in addition to regular monitoring and psychosocial supportive care. The main types of pharmacotherapies used in OAT are; oral methadone, sublingual buprenorphine and sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone [35303]. OAT provides clients the opportunity to stabilise their drug use and to make supportive changes in their substance use and lifestyle.

See also our section on Pharmacotherapies.


Key resources



Mina Mina Jukurrpa (Mina Mina Dreaming) by Sabrina Napangardi Granites

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