Programs provided in prison

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.

Drug withdrawal

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.

Nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches will no longer be supplied after 26 February 2024.

For more information, see 'Changes to Nicotine Replacement Therapy patches'.

People in prisons experiencing nicotine cravings or withdrawals can still access health services and support. Health service providers will maintain the ability to prescribe alternative therapies for addiction management based on clinical needs.

For those entering custody who are withdrawing from nicotine, ongoing access to health services and support, including the Quitline, will be provided at no cost. Health service providers will continue to prescribe alternative therapies as needed, replacing the current NRT patches option.

To address nicotine addiction clinically, health service providers can prescribe two medications in forms other than patches. These medications will be available to assist individuals in custody in their efforts to quit smoking.

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 (External link) 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.