07 March 2023

RACGP: GP-led alcohol and other drugs program a resounding success

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has today lauded the success of its Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) GP Education program, with three times the Government’s target number of GPs completing the training.

The program, which was designed to strengthen GPs’ capacity to address alcohol and other drug-related harm and addiction in their community, included face-to-face workshops, online webinars, and options for further professional development schemes. The final report found that between 86–99% of GPs across the different training pathways said the training met their needs, with participants described as being “highly engaged”.

One of the program’s educators and co-author of the report, Dr Paul Grinzi, said that the success of the program came down to several factors.  

“The content and design were led by GPs who understood the challenges of accessing high-quality professional development, especially with regard to alcohol and other drugs. The program was designed to address alcohol and other drug educational needs of all GPs, from fundamental ‘essential skills’ through to bespoke ‘advanced skills’ opportunities.

 “We need not work alone when assisting our patients. The AOD Program’s ‘whole-of-practice’ package allows for the whole clinic to upskill in caring for our patients, including reception staff, nurses, and practice managers. 
“Alcohol and other drug health issues are often chronic and comorbid with many other conditions we see daily. GPs are experts in navigating this complexity and developing skills in alcohol and other drugs can only add to our ability to care for our communities.”

Structured around five main training pathways, the program offered a range of training levels and modes of delivery:

  • Essential Skills, Treatment Skills, and Advanced Skills Training – offered AOD training complexity depending on the GPs’ level of need or skill

  • AOD Connect: Project ECHO – an online community-of-practice forum where GPs connect with colleagues, practice skills, discuss cases, and seek support from peers and AOD experts

  • Higher Risk Groups – provided training around common factors that may lead to increased risk of harms associated with a patient’s substance use, including people who have experienced trauma and those in contact with the criminal justice system.

Overall, 3042 GPs completed the training across the various pathways, representing 10% of full-time equivalent GPs in Australia and triple the Department of Health’s target number of GPs completing the program. A high proportion of the GPs were from rural and remote areas, where there is less access for non-GP treatment programs.

The RACGP’s education resource library provides access to over 200 alcohol and other drug resources and whole-of-practice resources for GPs’ CPD, including online training modules still available from the program, as well as the program’s final report. The complete library is available on the RACGP website.

Media enquiries

Journalists and media outlets seeking comment and information from the RACGP can contact John Ronan, Ally Francis and Stuart Winthrope via: