Prescription opioids

  • fentanyl
  • codeine
  • methadone
  • morphine
  • oxycodone
  • biodone
  • physeptone
  • hydromorphone
  • jurnista
Are opioids a problem for you?
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What are opioids?

Opioids are natural drugs derived from the opium poppy or synthetic drugs, and have a depressant or sedating effect, causing the brain and central nervous system to slow down.

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Prescription opioids

Opioids have a strong pain-killing effect, therefore pharmaceutical opioids may be prescribed for medical conditions, particularly for acute or cancer pain management. Pharmaceutical opioids include morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, methadone, buprenorphine, tapentadol, tramadol and codeine.

Immediate effects can include

  • pain relief
  • feeling of wellbeing
  • reduced anxiety / calmness
  • sleepiness

Effects depend on...

How much you take, how often you have been using opioids (the longer you use, the more you may build up a tolerance to the effects), when you last took opioids, how pure the opioid is, your height and weight, your general health, your past experience with drugs, whether you use opioids on their own or with other drugs.

Opioids can come in the form of illicit or illegal drugs such as heroin or diverted pharmaceutical opioids used for non-medical purposes. Heroin or other illegally obtained opioids may be cut or mixed with other drugs or substances, it is therefore hard to know how strong the drug is and this can lead to accidental overdose or death. Using opioids in combination with other drugs (such as sleeping tablets, other sedatives and alcohol) can also lead to accidental overdose or death.

  • pupils of the eye become smaller
  • sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shallow breathing

How opioids affects your body

Tap a body part to learn more of the effects Heroin places on your body.

Long term effects can include

  • overdose (the longer you use opioids, the greater your risk of overdose)
  • long-term and severe constipation
  • teeth problems
  • increased risk of contracting Hepatitis C and HIV
  • infertility (women)
  • impotence (men)
  • damaged veins from injecting
  • skin abscesses (sores with pus)
  • loss of appetite
  • irregular or no menstrual period (women)
  • heart and lung problems
  • infections of the blood

General Information

Are opioids a problem for you?

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  • Community Drug Action Teams (CDATs) are informal groups of community members, Local Health Districts, and representatives from other government and non-government agencies who volunteer to work together on alcohol and other drugs issues affecting their local community. There are more than 70 CDATs across NSW.

    NSW Health has supported the CDAT Program since its creation in 1999.

    Commencing January 2021, an Odyssey House NSW-led consortium will manage the CDAT Program. Karralika Programs, Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service and The Buttery are also members of the consortium. The program was previously managed by the Alcohol & Drug Foundation from 2013 to December 2020. 

    Visit the CDAT page which has recently been launched by the consortium.

    Want to make a difference to alcohol and other drug use in your community?

    Key dates

    • Applications open February 15, 2021
    • Applications close March 12, 2021
    • Official announcement April 2021

    Who is eligible?

    • You must have a designated Lead Organisation who will be responsible for the governance of the CDAT and be the primary contact for the CDAT
    • You must have a focus on prevention to reduce AOD related harm in community
    • You must meet the assessment criteria below

    Application Criteria

    The NSW CDAT Consortium will conduct a review of all applications using the following criteria:

    • Priority focus area
    • Demonstrated local need (local evidence of key issues, target audience)
    • Partnership (demonstrated ability to collaborate, sustainability of previous partnerships, expertise, skills and capacity to influence)
    • Community involvement and consultation
    • Experience or expertise; and capacity to deliver quality outcomes.

    When the applications have been assessed and confirmed, Applicants will be notified of the outcome.

     Apply for funding here

    If you would like further information on the CDAT Program, please contact the consortium at info@nswcdat.org.au


    Tell us about your team

    The consortium is keen to know a little about your successes and challenges, and how you'd like them to best support and communicate with you right now and over the coming years. Please take a few minutes to complete a short survey and tell them what is most important to you and your CDAT team. 

    More about Community Drug Action Teams
  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change lives in many different ways, to support the community we have developed a range of alcohol and other drug specific resources to help you with accessing services and support you with any stress and anxiety you may be experiencing. We will continue to update this page as new resources and information becomes available.

    For general updates, advice and facts visit COVID-19 (coronavirus) and follow NSW Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) for up-to-date information about
    service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ADIS helpline is open 24/7 on 1800 250 015 or via Web Chat Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5:00pm.

    You can also contact the Family Drug Support (FDS) 24/7 helpline on 1300 368 186 for drug and alcohol issues, or access online support via the FDS We hear you - Families matter during COVID 19 page.

    On this page

    1. Impact on alcohol and other drug services
    2. Managing your use of alcohol and other drugs
    3. Looking after your mental and physical health
    4. Safety and wellbeing

    Impact on alcohol and other drug services

    As the COVID-19 pandemic develops, NSW Health is working with local health districts, non-government organisation (NGO), alcohol and other drug (AOD) services and community pharmacies to ensure continuity of service. For full details visit Guidance for AOD Services about COVID-19 on the NSW Health website. For information on access to free naloxone (opioid overdose reversing medicine), visit 'Take home naloxone – a key component in COVID-19 preparedness'.

    Please note: The take home naloxone program includes instructions for performing rescue breathing and chest compressions. Before doing so, refer to the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce guidance on basic life support for adults in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF).

    Visit the Opioid Treatment Program page for information on the program and FAQs for OTP patients during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF), which includes answers to questions such as: Will I be able to continue to get my opioid treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic? What are my rights when negotiating my treatment during this time? I am required to self-isolate or have COVID-19 and cannot leave my house, how do I get my dose?

    People who test positive for COVID-19 and are currently undergoing treatment for alcohol and other drug dependence can continue with their program. Talk to your service provider to discuss your treatment in the event you test positive.

    Watch Dr Anthony Gill, Chief Addiction Medicine Specialist, NSW Health on advice for service providers.

    Managing your use of alcohol and other drugs

    NSW Health have launched the new free smartphone app, Drinks Meter. The app is a useful tool in this time of social distancing and isolation as it provides you with an opportunity to manage your alcohol consumption in times of stress and anxiety.

    The Get Healthy Service Alcohol Reduction Program is also available for people who want to reduce their alcohol consumption to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and a healthier lifestyle. The Alcohol Reduction Program is open to anyone aged 18 years and over.

    NUAA, the NSW Users and AIDS Association, have published a new fact sheet on COVID-19 and Harm Reduction. The fact sheet provides advice and information on protecting your health while using drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Also read ACON helping to reduce COVID-19 drug and alcohol harm, for information and harm reduction advice regarding alcohol and crystal (methamphetamine) use. Written and designed by ACON, Australia's leading community-based organisation specialising in HIV and LGBTQ health.

    Looking after your mental and physical health

    In this time of unprecedented concern about our collective health and livelihoods, it is more important than ever to remain socially connected and physically healthy. For more advice and tips to keep healthy read Maintaining happiness amid global anxiety and Soothing COVID-19 isolation anxiety.

    Safety and wellbeing

    There is no excuse for violence and abuse. This includes during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic and family violence there are services available to provide support.

    If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, please call Police on 000 (triple zero).

    You can contact 1800 RESPECT online or by phone on 1800 737 732 for confidential information, support and counselling. Women can also contact the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63 for support, counselling and referral to ongoing support.

    If you are worried about your own behaviour and use of violence, you can visit the NSW Government's Communities & Justice webpage for information or contact the Men's Referral Service online or by phone on 1300 766 491.

    For further information please visit the NSW Government's COVID-19 Mental health and safety webpage.

    More about COVID-19 Support
  • Family Drug Support (FDS) provides support and assistance to families throughout Australia who are experiencing difficulty with a family member using alcohol or other drugs.

    FDS is a non-religious, non-judgemental and caring organisation of volunteers who have first-hand experience living with family members experiencing alcohol or drug dependency.

    FDS supports families by providing information about alcohol and other drugs, dependence and treatment options, while also helping families to overcome stigma and reduce self-blame, provide mutual support and help families build skills to strengthen their relationships.

    FDS provide a 24 hour, 7 days a week support line for families, support groups and meetings, the 'Stepping Stones' and 'Stepping Forward' courses, events and resources.

    Find out how FDS can help you.

    24 hour support line

    1300 368 186

    More about Family Drug Support (FDS)
  • Families, friends and loved ones can play a critical role in the recovery of people who experience alcohol and other drug problems, however they are often focused on the needs of others while they neglect their own their own health and wellbeing.

    The Family and Friend Support Program (FFSP) is an online cognitive behavioural therapy program to support people who are caring for or supporting someone with alcohol and other drug use issues.

    FFSP is based on a series of modules and includes information and activities on how families and friends can help their loved ones, with a specific emphasis on the person providing the support and their often unmet needs. The program is also suitable for health professionals.

    For information on how to start a conversation with your loved one about their alcohol and or other drug use, tips on how to look after yourself and other resources visit our For Families mini-site.

    Cost

    The program is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

    Please note that for Health Professionals there are costs involved in the 5-step training. Details about the training can be found on the Health Professionals portal in FFSP (under the icon 5-step).

    The FFSP is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

    More about Family and Friend Support Program
  • PeerLine is confidential service run by the NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA). NUAA works to improve the health, welfare and dignity of people who use drugs. 

    PeerLine is a free, confidential peer supported telephone service for people who use drugs, who are on the Opioid Treatment Program or seeking treatment. Trained peers will help you with information, advice and advocacy

    NUAA-PeerLine-FullLogo.png

    PeerLine is available from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

    Call for free on 1800 644 413 or email peerline@nuaa.org.au to connect.

    Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm

    1800 644 413

    More about NUAA PeerLine
  • The NSW Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) is an evidence-based public health program that aims to reduce the transmission of infections such as HIV and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs. NSP outlets provide sterile injecting equipment such as needles and syringes, Fitpacks and other injecting equipment (such as swabs, water, spoons and cotton balls) as well as disposal facilities free of charge.

    NSP outlets are staffed by specialist workers who provide access to sterile injecting equipment, promote safe disposal practices and facilitate referrals to health, welfare and community services as needed. NSP outlets may also be able to assist with testing for blood borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C. You may not even require a blood test such as with the Dried Blood Spot (DBS) test. Ask your NSP staff member or visit dbstest.health.nsw.gov.au for more information. 

    Who is the program for?

    The NSP is for people who inject drugs to avoid contracting or transmitting blood borne diseases and to provide a place for safe disposal of sharps containers (needles and syringes).

    NSP Outlets in NSW

    To help the community access the program, an interactive map has been developed listing all public NSP outlets across NSW. Use the map below to find your nearest NSP outlet or refer to the NSP listing by suburb page for details.

    If you would like further information and/or advice call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015.

    More about NSW Needle and Syringe Program (NSP)
  • AODconnect is an app which provides a national listing of alcohol and other drug treatment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The app is intended for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers, community members or any health professional working in the AOD sector looking for a culturally appropriate service.

    The app allows you to find a service by region or postcode through an interactive map of Australia. You can toggle between an alphabetical listing or see the service visually displayed on  the map of Australia.

    Service information can also be filtered by the type of treatment they provide:
    • counselling and referral
    • harm reduction and support groups
    • outreach
    • mobile patrols and sobering up shelters
    • residential rehab
    • withdrawal management
    • young people
    The app is available on both iOS and Android devices.

    google-play (1).pngapp-store.png 

    AODconnect is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and managed by the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.

    More about AODconnect app
  • 1300 DRIVER provides education, information, one-off and ongoing support, and referrals for long haul truck drivers and their families with issues related to health, wellbeing, stress, anxiety, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

    1300 DRIVER (1300 374837) is anonymous, confidential and staffed by experienced health professionals 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Calls from landlines and mobile phones are the cost of a standard call. 

    The service is for long haul truck drivers who: 

    • have questions or experience issues related to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
    • struggle with managing sleep, long hours, alertness and thinking about stimulants 
    • experience problems relaxing and getting sleep when home
    • struggle with thinking about substances as a way to come down
    • experience anxiety and stress issues as a result of the job demands
    • changing smoking habits to meet work demands

    1300 DRIVER is available via telephone on 1300 DRIVER (1300 374837), Twitter and online at 1300DRIVER.org.au.

    24 hour support line

    1300 374 837

    More about 1300 DRIVER
Your Room > A-Z of Drugs > Prescription opioids