Addiction medicine

Preventing morbidity and mortality

We take clinical, public health and research approaches to address the adverse health consequences of substance use.

About the specialty

The Specialty of Addiction Medicine was formed in 2007 and was the first of its kind in Australia. We comprise teaching and research staff within Sydney Medical School, clinical schools and research centres and institutes at the University. Our research covers many facets of addiction medicine including diagnosis, investigation, prevention and treatment.

Study options

We teach into the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program at Sydney Medical School, a major component of which is an eight-week placement that can be taken in addiction medicine at these clinical schools:

We offer electives in the Master of Public Health and Master of Global Health program, including the unit of study Alcohol, Drug Use and Health (PUBH5145), projects for the Public Health Capstone and the Public Health Special Project units of study.

The University offers a range of research opportunites to help you pursue your passion. You can undertake a:

To learn more about research opportunities in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, visit our postgraduate research page.

Opioid Treatment Accreditation Course (OTAC) Program

The Specialty offers a range of professional development short courses in conjunction with the NSW Ministry of Health aimed to increase the knowledge and understanding of opioid agonist treatment pharmacotherapies. The short courses are offered at no cost to health professionals and include:

  • Fundamentals training in opioid treatment
  • Opioid Treatment Accreditation Course (OTAC)
  • Driving Safety: Sedating medications and opioid agonist treatment
  • Treatment of opioid dependence with depot buprenorphine
  • Naloxone: An introduction to medication to reverse an opioid overdose

In addition, the OTAC program also provides monthly webinars focusing on clinical case discussions, and are piloting a Scholarship in 2023-24 for general practitioners and nurse practitioners to receive accreditation from regional NSW.

The OTAC also provides medical and nurse practitioners with the opportunity to apply for accreditation to prescribe opioid pharmacotherapies in NSW. For more information on each short course or to register your interest visit the course website or contact the OTAC Team.

Sydney Addiction Seminars

The specialty also offers the Sydney Addiction Seminars, an evening seminar series that provides topical lectures and discussions within addiction medicine. The seminars are suited to all health professionals interested in alcohol and other drug topics, including general practitioners, nursing staff, pharmacists, and others. Previous seminars can be viewed online. For more information or to be included in the mailing list, contact the Seminar Coordinator.

Clinical trials research

Despite how alcohol-use disorders are a leading cause of preventable death, treatment options are still limited, indicating the need for continuing research.

Our work is at the forefront of alcohol treatment in Australia. Your involvement in one of our studies will not only contribute to future treatments of alcohol dependence nationwide, but also be of immense help in achieving your abstinence or moderation goals.

Current clinical trials

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is both an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory compound. New evidence suggests NAC may also help reduce drinking and craving in individuals who want to stop or reduce their drinking.

We are currently offering a 12-week treatment program for those who want to cut down on their drinking. It includes a medical assessment with our specialist and a case manager to monitor and assist you throughout the program

This program may suit those who:

  • are having difficulties cutting down or controlling their drinking
  • are willing to participate in a randomised controlled trial

To take part in the program or to find out more contact us:

T| +614 59 877 108 or +614 55 093 221

MDMA is a synthetic substance that, in combination with psychotherapy, is currently being investigated for its potential in treating mental health conditions. Evidence suggests that MDMA-assisted therapy may help reduce drinking and craving in individuals who want to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption. Previous research also suggests that MDMA-assisted therapy is effective in reducing PTSD symptoms. We are interested in determining whether MDMA-assisted therapy can reduce drinking and PTSD symptoms in those with co-occurring PTSD and alcohol use disorder (AUD).

We will soon start recruiting for a 15-week program for those who want to cut down their drinking and alleviate their PTSD symptoms. This program includes: a gold-standard treatment for comorbid (or co-occurring) PTSD and AUD, a medical assessment with our specialist, and a case manager to monitor and assist you throughout the program.

This program may suit those who:

  • Have been diagnosed with PTSD,
  • Are having difficulties cutting down or controlling their drinking, and
  • Are willing to participate in a randomised controlled trial

To take part in the program or to find out more contact us:

MPATHY: MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Use Problems

We are offering a program that will investigate whether MDMA may enhance the effects of a gold-standard therapy, COPE (Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use disorder Using Prolonged Exposure) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

This program may suit you if you:

  • Are over 18
  • Have current PTSD
  • Have received treatment for PTSD in the past
  • Would like to reduce your alcohol use
  • Are willing to attend RPAH for weekly appointments approximately 14-16 weeks

To take part in the program or to find out more, contact us at:

Our programs

We are unique in having a collection of researchers working in every area of addiction medicine, from epidemiology to clinical intervention trials and laboratory studies.

For many years we have worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in New South Wales, the Northern Territory and South Australia to address substance use.

The Indigenous Health and substance use program responds to the needs and priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and agencies. We aim to:

  • train, foster and champion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, clinicians and policymakers
  • determine appropriate and effective ways to prevent substance misuse in Indigenous communities (including alcohol, tobacco, volatiles or illicit drugs)
  • determine appropriate and effective ways of treating substance use by conducting clinically focused research and through refining models of clinical service delivery
  • conduct ethically designed research that brings direct benefits to Indigenous communities.
  • inform evidence-based policy development.
Research themes

Indigenous addiction medicine research is divided into the following themes:

  1. redefining treatment
  2. understanding substance use
  3. screening and intervention
  4. knowledge translation
  5. workforce development.

The drink-less program is a practical package designed to assist primary healthcare workers to screen for alcohol related problems and offer appropriate advice to patients on drinking.

Program resources

Developed by Specialty of Addiction Medicine and over 60 collaborators across Australia, the fourth edition of National Guidelines for the Treatment of Alcohol Problems provides up-to-date, evidence-based information to clinicians on available treatments for people with alcohol problems. The Guidelines are largely directed towards individual clinicians in practice, such as primary care physicians (general practitioners, nursing staff), specialist medical practitioners, psychologists and other counsellors, and other health professionals.

The latest version of the Guidelines includes 23 chapters in three distinct sections and includes a greater focus on the issue of stigma and discrimination alongside specific population considerations, such as for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and sexuality and gender diverse populations. Alongside the main Guidelines document, a supplement in the Medical Journal of Australia is available to summarise key recommendations for practice.

Our people