KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: CONSUMER GUIDELINES TO OTP

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: CONSUMER GUIDELINES TO OTP

After what felt like years of waiting, the new guidelines for the methadone and buprenorphine program came out last year. This document, the NSW Clinical Guidelines: Treatment of Opioid Dependence – 2018, is what prescribers, nurses and clinic staff refer to when treating people on the Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).  

It’s great that this document is out because now doctors and nurses know everything they need to know about OTP.  

But what about us? It’s a thick, wordy booklet, and not easy for everyone to understand. That’s why NUAA have spent the last few months translating it into another set of resources for us – the Consumer Guideline Guidelines to OTP! 

Our Consumer Guidelines got bigger and bigger the more we talked to people about what they want. As well as the Consumer Guidelines, we developed an extra set of standalone resources which cover a range of different topics. 

  • Starter’s Guide to OTP – Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about starting on methadone or buprenorphine 

  • Pain Management – What to do if you’re in extra pain while on OTP. 

  • Pregnancy and Parenting – Info about being pregnant while on OTP, the support available for mums and dads, and how to stay on the good side of Family and Community Services (FACS, formerly known as DOCS). 

  • Maintenance – Find out more about what it’s like to be on the program for a long time, changing your dose, and takeaways! 

  • Exiting Treatment – Are you thinking about reducing or stopping taking your methadone or bupe? Let’s talk about ways to come off, whether you’re ready, withdrawals and how to cope with them, and the support you can get once you’ve exited treatment. 

  • Regional and Rural OTP – Opioid treatment in regional and rural NSW has some different challenges than in Sydney, so we’ve tried to make it as easy for you as possible with this resource! 

  • Consumer Rights and Responsibilities – Want to learn about your legal rights and what you can expect from the NSW and Australian health care system? What about dealing with police while on the program? This guide explains your rights and responsibilities while on the program, and how to make complaints if you feel like you’re not being treated fairly. 

What’s so special about NUAA’s guidelines? 

Our version is easy-to-read and has everything you could possibly want to know about being on methadone and buprenorphine – written by people who drugs, for people who use drugs.  

As well as using the information in the Clinical Guidelines, we talked to regular doctors, addiction medicine specialists, pharmacists, and policy-makers to get their point of view on OTP. Not only that, we went out to towns across NSW to run focus groups with people who are on bupe or methadone, to find out what issues they thought were important and to hear about their experiences on the program. The result is a set of resources are made specifically for you no matter where you are on your treatment journey, and we are excited and proud to share it with our community. 

What’s in NUAA’s Consumer Guidelines to OTP? 

Our Consumer Guidelines to OTP has information about loads of topics. It explains the how to start a treatment program, what being on the program is like, your options for medication and clinics (including depot bupe), information about injecting, using other drugs and medications, your rights and responsibilities, and how to get extra support. 

We also bust myths about driving and travelling on the program, pregnancy and parenting, and the side effects of OTP medication. It has info on how to go about reducing your dose and stopping treatment, what happens if you end up in hospital or jail, and what you can do if you’re being treated unfairly or discriminated against.  

We started with the Ministry for Health’s Clinical Guidelines on how they want the OTP run, written for health professionals involved in prescribing and dosing.  

Then we went and talked to people on the program both in the city and country areas and we found out that there were a few things we were missing – for example, information about different treatment options (not just methadone and buprenorphine), and specific stuff for people in regional and rural areas. From these focus groups, we decided to develop an extra set of resources, so as well as the main Consumer Guidelines, the project expanded to include seven stand-alone guides. These are smaller booklets about specific topics, so you don’t feel you are wading through masses of info to find out what you need to know.  

Where can I get a copy? 

NUAA’s Consumer Guidelines to OTP will be out very soon, and they will be distributed across NSW to NSPs, chemists, OTP clinics and some medical practices and healthcare clinics - anyone who needs a copy will be able to get one. If you’d like your own copy of any of our resources, get in touch with us and we’ll send one out to you. You contact NUAA by email at nuaa@nuaa.org.au, or by phone on (02) 8354 7300 or 1800 644 413 (free call).  

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