Drug dependence, including opioid dependence, involves a complex interplay of social, psychological and biological factors.

Learning objectives

After reading this article, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe characteristics of opioid dependence in a person
  • Discuss the role of opioid replacement therapy and indications for its use
  • Define the role of pharmacists in monitoring, counselling and supporting people receiving opioid replacement therapy.


Competencies (2016) addressed:  1.1.3, 1.3.2, 1.4.1, 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 3.1.2, 3.2.2, 3.2.5, 3.2.6, 3.3.1, 3.6.1.

Competencies (2010) addressed:  1.1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 1.3.2, 4.2.2, 4.3.3, 6.2.2, 7.1.2, 7.1.4, 7.2.2, 7.2.3.

 Case scenario

Jason has just started on the opioid replacement therapy (ORT) treatment program, and will be seeing you to receive his methadone. He has received a lot of information about methadone from his doctor and heard many stories about it from friends and family over the last few days.

He is feeling a bit confused. He would like to have a chat with you about what his treatment actually is, and whether there are any side effects that he needs to know about.

Want to learn more? PSA members can access the full article and assessment questions here to earn up to 1.5 Group 2 CPD credits.

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