Engaging with families and significant others in the alcohol and other drug sector

When a person has issues with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use their partner, family and friends can also be impacted.

​The NSW Ministry of Health funded the Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) to deliver a comprehensive workforce program to help workers support families impacted by substance use. Professionals in local health districts (LHD) and non-government organisations (NGOs) working with families from generalist health including nursing, allied health, psychology, social work, community health and health promotion were encouraged to attend.

Between May 2018 and June 2019, NADA delivered training across NSW LHDs with 19 face-to-face workshops and 530 people attending from NGOs, LHDs, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and other services. The workshops provided an opportunity to hear from speakers with lived experience, build networks and learn about local services.

Workshop participants reported:

  • that training improved their awareness of issues faced by families and
  • said the training would lead to improvements in their practice

"Great session on engagement with families and carers and how to open the conversation of providing support for loved ones."

"The day provided a good opportunity to reflect on how family inclusive our service is and consider the implications, the weaknesses, the benefits, the costs (resources and otherwise) - particularly from the perspective of the family. Sort of like jumping over the fence and seeing what we do from the other (family) side."

Workshop content has been converted to eLearning modules available at NADA Resources for Working With Families If you are interested in completing these modules please create a new account at NADA E-Learning Account The site contains resources if you would like to conduct an in-service for your staff.

For more information please contact Dr Suzie Hudson, Clinical Director at NADA at email suzie@nada.org.au

Prescribing to clients on the Opioid Treatment Program (OTP)

The NSW Ministry of Health has contracted the University of Sydney, Discipline of Addiction Medicine to deliver courses for medical and nurse practitioners to support safe prescribing of opioid pharmacotherapies.

The Fundamentals Training Course is an online introductory program open to all healthcare workers in the NSW public health system and NSW Health funded non-government organisations interested in developing their knowledge of the NSW Opioid Treatment Program including pharmacotherapies and safe practices. The Fundamentals Training Course can be completed online at Opioid Training Accreditation Course

Medical and Nurse Practitioners who complete Fundamentals Training will be invited to attend an Opioid Treatment Accreditation Course (OTAC). The OTAC covers all aspects of the NSW OTP and addresses more complex issues and cases, with additional focus on the use of methadone and buprenorphine preparations.

Completion of the Fundamentals training course is required prior to undertaking the OTAC.

Completion of the OTAC and a clinical placement are necessary to apply to become an accredited prescriber of opioid pharmacotherapies in accordance with the Poisons and Therapeutic Regulation 2008.

The OTAC course coordinator can assist with information about the Fundamental course and the OTAC on (02) 9515 6407 or Opioid Training Accreditation Course

The NSW Ministry of Health contracted University of Sydney to develop a free online training course for health practitioners about driving safety and assessing fitness to drive. The course gives information and instruction on a range of ways health practitioners can encourage and ensure driving safety for patients, including how to discuss driving safety when:

  • commencing a sedating medication
  • using multiple medications
  • starting or adjusting dose on the opioid treatment program.

The Driving Safety course also includes information on assessing patient fitness to drive, reporting, and licensing.

On the website there are also consumer resources for patients with a frequently asked question section detailing common questions OTP and other consumers might have about sedating medications and driving.

The University of Sydney

The University are funded to establish and provide leadership for the Discipline of Addiction Medicine at Sydney University. Another key facet of this project is working to establish and implement a shared Addiction Medicine curriculum across all NSW universities.

A series of free downloadable online medical lectures are being revised and enhanced and are available from the University of Sydney, Addiction Medicine.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians: The Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine

The Chapter are working to develop, pilot and accrediting online learning modules on three topics, alcohol, prescription drug misuse and opportunistic interventions.

The Chapter have recently taken over the management of the Advanced Prescribers Course, to update and improve the skills of prescribers on the Opioid Treatment Program. The online course provides experienced prescribers of opioid replacement therapies with an opportunity to increase their skills in the prescribing of methadone and buprenorphine-naloxone by working through a series of case studies and engaging with colleagues in an interactive facilitated forum.

Worker resource

Professor John Toumbourou in consultation with the MHDAO, ADF and NADA has developed a worker resource titled Preventing Alcohol Harms in Young People: Family-Based Interventions. The resource includes both information and practical tips for workers. The two objectives of this resource are:

  • to improve workers’ understanding of the current research-based findings about how families, in particular parents, can reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms among young people
  • to provide ‘best practice’ examples of effective actions, programs and strategies that can be used in professional practice to enhance services to families.