Addiction Medicine

About Us

The Department of Addiction Medicine at St Vincent's provides medical treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Our work includes direct patient treatment, research, education/training and policy development. 

Addiction Medicine at St Vincent’s strives to ensure that our clinical knowledge and experience informs public health policy, to achieve a more sophisticated understanding in the community of the nature and treatment of addiction, and to improve the health outcomes for those seeking assistance for drug or alcohol problems.


The science of addiction

Today addiction is widely understood to be a chronic, relapsing neurobiological disease.

Genetic variables, environmental factors, stress, and conditioning effects all contribute to the progression from substance use to addiction and are also recognised to be major factors mediating response to treatment.
Progression from use/abuse to addiction is accompanied by long-term neuroadaptations and these underlie persistent cravings and withdrawal symptoms, increase the risk of relapse, and contribute to the cyclical nature of addiction treatment.
Persons presenting for substance abuse treatment commonly have comorbid mental health problems, and other general health problems that need to be addressed.

Central to the treatment of addiction are three domains:

  1. Pharmacotherapy
  2. Psychosocial stability
  3. Behavioural interventions

Our Services

The following clinical services are delivered or administered from 38 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy 3065.

  • Outpatient Clinics - Medical (assessments, secondary consultations, shared care), Counselling
  • Consultation/Liaison Service
  • Relapse Prevention Groups (for existing and part patients)
  • RaSP Behavioural Therapy usign Acceptance and Commitment Group Therapy (referral letters should be emailed to RaSP@svha.org.au)
  • Provision of treatment under the Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act (SSDTA)  click on link 

Residential withdrawal services - Depaul House

Depaul House is a 12 bed community residential withdrawal unit attached to St Vincent’s. The unit is staffed 24hrs by registered nurses, enrolled nurses and welfare workers. This provides specialist care for those who wish to voluntarily undertake withdrawal from substances in a safe, clinical environment. We offer medical withdrawal supported by a therapeutic group program and community engagement.


We are situated at number 9 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 3065. Access to DePaul House is now through community assessment. For details of local providers that conduct community assessments contact Direct line on 1800 888 236.

Specialist Clinics

Medical Services

  • Specialist medical consultation services are available by appointment for individuals referred from their general practitioner. For referrals please use this eForm.

Counselling Services

  • Counselling services are offered to any person who has a problem with their own or someone else's drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Individual treatment plans developed according to client's needs
  • Referral to other services when required, eg withdrawal/residential program
  • Counselling sessions are pre-booked
  • We are not a crisis service, but we endeavour to see new clients as soon as possible after contact is made

Consultation/Liaison Service

The consultation/liaison service will provide advice and care for all St. Vincent's inpatients with drug or alcohol problems who are referred to the service.

The service provides:

  • Hospital inpatient services

  • Management advice

  • Medical management of alcohol or drug withdrawal

  • Brief intervention/education on the effects of substance abuse

  • Advice on discharge planning.

Hospital patients can also be referred to community agencies and counselling for outpatient counselling/treatment for their drug or alcohol problem.

Project ECHO (Extending Community Healthcare Outcomes)

ECHO means Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes. Project ECHO is a lifelong learning and guided practice model that revolutionizes medical education and exponentially increases workforce capacity to provide St. Vincents Hospital Melbourne ECHO Logobest-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities.

We are using ECHO to bring specialist knowledge and support in opioid management to health practitioners throughout Victoria. We aim to cover all aspects of opioid management including prescription and illicit opioid misuse/abuse and addiction, opioids and addiction in chronic pain management, medication assisted treatments for opioid use disorder (MAT, MATOD, methadone, buprenorphine), overdose, regulations and opioid prescribing, trauma-informed care, dual-diagnosis.

The heart of the ECHO model is its hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing networks, led by the multidisciplinary team at the Department of Addiction Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne who use multi-point videoconferencing to conduct tele-support for community providers. In this way, primary care doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacotherapy consultants and other clinicians learn to provide excellent specialty care to patients in their own communities.

For more information please contact Amanda Norman - Amanda.Norman@SVHA.org.au


Heat map of Project ECHO's reach in Victoria
ECHO heatmap previous 6 months cropped

Testimonials from ECHO participants:

“Hi Team,
Just giving feedback how much I am enjoying the ECHO sessions. Even though I have been a methadone prescriber for 23 years I have learnt a lot from the sessions. It is also helpful and reassuring to get the Hub's opinions on cases and I feel that my approach has become more systematic to my own patients since engaging with ECHO. This effect is magnified as I am a sort of backup resource about opioids and prescribing in Geelong and near surrounds. So a big THANK YOU and WELL DONE..”

GP, Geelong

“Such a complex case study but the suggested treatment plan was so applicable and the suggestions offered by (the psychiatry registrar) were brilliant and very culturally sensitive …. Overall a very informative and thought provoking session.”
Pharmacotherapy Co-ordinator, Gippsland


Contact

38 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy, VIC 3065

Tel: (03) 9231 2627
Fax: (03) 9231 2642

For referral please submit an eForm