GPs navigate codeine changes with support from AOD@theGP

GPs navigate codeine changes with support from AOD@theGP

09 March, 2018

With the introduction of the new laws on 1 February making access to codeine prescription only, many GPs and health professionals have turned to a new onsite support service in general practice called 'AOD@theGP' that is delivered by Caraniche under funding from Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN).

Eastern Melbourne PHN CEO, Robin Whyte, said the secondary consultation and onsite alcohol and other drug (AOD) support service, AOD@theGP, received more than 30 codeine-related referrals during the week the changes came into effect.

“It is clear that people are looking to their GP for support and advice about how to navigate the new prescription changes” Robin said.  "This brings a good opportunity for GPs to review their patient's pain management, however in some cases patients are also discovering that they may be experiencing codeine dependence." 

Sally Thorpe, Manager of Caraniche’s Community Counselling Services, who oversees the service said AOD@theGP clinicians have observed an impact of the new laws at local medical clinics.

“Because this substance was previously available over the counter, patients don’t see it as an ‘addictive’ substance and many people don’t see their ongoing use of codeine as problematic” Sally said. 

AOD@theGP has worked directly with reception and practice management staff to support them to safely and effectively manage clients presenting with challenging behaviours, such as intoxication or drug seeking.

AOD@theGP can assist GPs by providing phone, email or in-person secondary consultations. The service can recommend alternative medication options that aren’t codeine based, develop treatment plans specific to the patient’s needs and support the GP to implement the plan as appropriate.

AOD@theGP also provides links to training services and programs to increase GPs’ capacity and confidence in prescribing Opiate Replacement Therapy to a larger group of patients, as well as facilitating referrals of the patient to specialist pain management, AOD and counselling support services and programs.

AOD@theGP provides free phone or email support to general practices within the Eastern Melbourne PHN catchment. To find out more about AOD@theGP, to make a referral, or to speak with one of our Recovery Support Workers, call 1800 931 939 or email 

About AOD@theGP

AOD@theGP works collaboratively with health professionals to explore how substances affect the health and wellbeing of their patients. It's a free service available to GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists, medical receptionists and allied health providers working in the Eastern Melbourne PHN area, enabling them to increase their capacity to provide AOD care. AOD@theGP is delivered by Caraniche, supported by funding from the Australian Government under the PHN Program.

For media enquiries, contact Lucy Rochlin, Marketing and Communications Manager, Caraniche:, 03 8417 0500.