Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 39, Issue 8, August 2010

Opioid dependence Management in general practice

Matthew Frei
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Addiction to opioids, or opioid dependence, encompasses the biopsychosocial dysfunction seen in illicit heroin injectors, as well as aberrant behaviours in patients prescribed opioids for chronic nonmalignant pain.
To outline the management of opioid dependence using opioid pharmacotherapy as part of a comprehensive chronic illness management strategy.
The same principles and skills general practitioners employ in chronic illness management underpin the care of patients with opioid dependence. Opioid pharmacotherapy, with the substitution medications methadone and buprenorphine, is an effective management of opioid dependence. Training and regulatory requirements for prescribing opioid pharmacotherapies vary between jurisdictions, but this treatment should be within the scope of most Australian GPs.

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