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Alcohol and other drug services

Alcohol and other drug programs are provided at all prisons. Programs include individual counselling, psycho-educational programs, long-term group therapy and transitional assistance programs. Access is based on an assessment of need and suitability.  Every prisoner entering prison receives harm reduction education to minimise the harm associated with drug use.

All drug treatment programs in Victoria’s prisons are based on a substantial body of research. Offenders who engage in structured cognitive behavioural treatment (CBT) interventions show reductions in drug use and reoffending.

The Corrections Alcohol and Drug Strategy 2015 – Overview describes the approach to dealing with alcohol and drug use across all correctional environments in Victoria, integrating the key principles and strategies employed within both adult prison settings and community correctional services.

Prisoners can access drug withdrawal support and opioid substitution therapy (such as methadone) in prison. The Opioid Substitution Therapy Program (OSTP) 2015 aims to reduce the harm associated with illicit opioid use by reducing the demand for drugs, stabilising prisoners in treatment and reducing the risk of transmission of blood-borne viruses. People entering custody who were receiving opioid substitution therapy (OST) in the community can continue their treatment in prison. Prisoners who meet the clinical criteria may also commence OST while in prison.

Taking or supplying illicit drugs and drinking or supplying alcohol is illegal in Victorian prisons.

Post-release pharmacotherapy dispensing subsidy program

Prisoners

Prisoners who receive opioid substitution therapy during their time in prison may be referred by the prison health service provider to a community pharmacy to maintain their opioid substitution treatment on release.  

Prisoners who are unexpectedly released from prison and do not have a referral for the program can contact the health service provider at their last prison location to organise a referral.

Pharmacies

The program is fee-for-service with no advance payments available.  Justice Health pays participating pharmacies a subsidy of $5 (excluding GST) per dose for up to 30 doses delivered over 4 weeks. The prisoner has up to two weeks from the date of their release to commence treatment through a pharmacy.

To claim payment, participating pharmacies must:

  1. confirm their trading details on the Australian Business Register (External link) prior to preparing a claim form (The pharmacy name and ABN on the form must be the same as it appears on the Australian Business Register. The Department of Justice uses the ABN as a supplier number for payment purposes.)
  2. submit a Pharmacotherapy Dispensing Subsidy Program Claim Form for payment as soon as possible following the completion of dosing with the correct ABN and pharmacy details.

Pharmacies cannot claim GST if they are not registered for GST claims.