Illicit drug use is not an uncommon problem in Australia. According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2016, around 2.9 million people in Australia aged 14 and over were estimated to have used illicit drugs in the previous 12 months, and 8 million were estimated to have done so in their lifetime.
Here at the Interchange General Practice, we adopt a non-judgmental approach to people seeking assistance for management of their drug dependency. We recognise that many people feel stigmatised by their drug use. We believe that people with drug dependency have the same right of access to non-judgmental quality health care as anyone else. We also believe that everyone has the right to make choices about their life and we are here to provide advice and support. We also believe in the principle of harm minimisation.
The doctors at the Interchange General Practice have a lot of experience at working with patients with drug dependency. We manage the second largest group of patients on the methadone and buprenorphine programs in the ACT after the Alcohol and Drug Program. Several of our doctors at the Interchange General Practice have had the training to initiate patients on methadone or buprenorphine treatment. We work cooperatively with local community pharmacies to manage people on methadone and buprenorphine programs.
In addition, we also manage large numbers of patients with benzodiazepine dependency with the Benzodiazepine Voluntary Undertakings.
Chronic pain is another area where people are often unhappy with the outcomes of their management. Our doctors have had a lot of experience at managing patients with complex pain histories. As well as physical causes, psychological factors contribute significantly to the experience of chronic pain. Our doctors adopt the same non-judgmental caring approach to chronic pain as they do with people with drug dependency. We work with patients at setting boundaries around their medication use and help them explore other modalities of pain management.