Addiction can happen to anyone, it’s NOT your fault, you’re not alone,

there is help available.

Lets Talk


It’s about the science.

Lets Talk


It’s not about willpower.

Lets Talk


It’s about the next steps.

Opioid addiction, opioid dependence or opioid use disorder, no matter how it is labelled, it is a disease. Some experts look it as a disease caused by the opioid hijacking your brain and changing the way you think, feel and behave. It tricks you to desire the drug more than anything else.1,2

It becomes the centre of your being, and as hard as you try to resist its temptation, your brain won’t let you. You feel trapped, you no longer feel in control and you are stuck in a cycle:3

Triggers a sense of calm or pleasure in the brain.


Strong, even overwhelming desire for opioids

Uncomfortable or painful symptoms after not using.

Does this sound familiar to you? Most likely. Addiction to opioids is common.

Did you know that:

Australians prescribed opioids
Will become addicted4,5
As many as


Australians inject drugs
such as heroin6
Drug Overdose
*BaseD on data from 2017

only 1 in 4*

People who recognise they have a problem will seek help for opioid addiction8
*prescribed opioids for chronic non-cancer pain

Addiction is a disease

not a moral failure10

Before you read on, there are 3 things you need to remember:


You’re not alone.

There is help available.

Breaking the cycle of addiction requires more than willpower. There are many choices available to help you deal with your addiction.11 No matter which treatment choice you make, the goal remains the same – to put you back in the driver’s seat. The longer you stay on treatment, the more in control you will feel.12

Let’s keep it real, the journey isn’t an easy one, it will take time for your brain to recover and relapse is common. Like other chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma, opioid addiction requires long term treatment, during which you will improve your health and shape behaviours that will allow you to lead an active and engaging life.12

Drug addiction is a disease.

It’s a disease of the brain that is treatable13

Generally, opioid addiction is treated with a combination of medication (e.g. buprenorphine or methadone) and psychosocial support. Talk to your doctor about what options are available to you and together you will be able to make a treatment choice that best fits your situation. To figure this out, think about your lifestyle, family and work commitments and how you need the treatment to fit in.

For instance, some medications will require daily visits to a clinic or pharmacy.
Taking a daily medication means regular contact with a healthcare practitioner.

Other medications are less demanding on time and offer more discretion. For instance, longer lasting options are available that avoid the need for taking regular doses and in some cases can provide even greater flexibility in terms of timing.

Let’s remember that there’s more to opioid addiction than just the physical symptoms. Talk to your doctor about accessing psychological and social support and how you can help to look after your mental health.

It’s about starting a journey. It’s about taking the next steps and it’s about making choices.

Are you ready to know more?

This website provides practical information. It’s designed to help you start the conversation, either with yourself, a loved one or a doctor.

This website should not be used as a substitute to seeking medical advice. If you have any concerns, please make an appointment to talk to your doctor.

Show references

  1. Volkow ND, et al. N Eng J Med 2016; 374:363-71.
  2. Koob GF, Volkow ND. Neuropsychopharmacology 2010; 35: 217-238.
  3. Koob GF. Biological Psychiatry 2020; 87(1):44-53.
  4. Penington Institute (2017), sourced from SBS Australia, Australia’s Addiction to Prescription Meds Is Nearing Crisis Point. Available at:
  5. The Tragedy of Addiction in Australia. Available at:
  6. Larney S, et al. BMC Public Health. 2017;17(1):757.
  7. Penington Institute (2019). Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2019. Melbourne: Penington Institute.
  8. Larance B, et al. Pain Medicine 2018: ;20(4):758-769.
  9. Islam MM, et al. Aust NZ J Public Health 2013; 37: 148-54.
  10. Addiction Education Society. Addiction is a Disease Not a Moral Failure. Available at:
  11. NUUA. Consumer’s Guide to the Opioid Treatment Program: Introduction to the OTP. Available at:
  12. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Seeking drug abuse treatment: know what to ask. June 2013. Available at:
  13. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. August 2014. Available at:

Let’s Talk help

Use the search tool below to find a local doctor who can help your loved one with their addiction. You can also talk to your GP who can recommend specialist help. Once a doctor or a clinic has been located, a referral may be needed. At the time of booking an appointment, the clinic will let you know if this is required.

      Note that the search results may not include all doctors and clinics in any specific area.
      This website does not endorse a particular doctor or clinic.