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
  • 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 -

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

RaSP (Recovery and Support Program)

Recovery and Support Program (RaSP): A group model of complex care for people with a dual diagnosed substance use disorder, and co-occurring mental illness.


What is RaSP?

RaSP is a post-withdrawal, non-residential, harm reduction group program for people who are dependent on alcohol or other drugs and are often struggling with co-occurring mental illness.

RaSP offers post-withdrawal treatment and support for clients exiting Community Residential Withdrawal Units or Acute Psychiatric In Patient Units or PARC.

RaSP facilitators use Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT), in particular the Matrix model. Participants are trained to use the ACT matrix to track any lapses that occur, and to notice the interaction between mental experiences and behaviour, and how that behaviour leads them towards or away from the people and things that are important to them.


Clients can be experiencing problems from use of any substance. RaSP is oriented to recovery by building a life worth living. We invite all accepted RaSP participants to begin to consider, three changes they could make during RaSP, outside of abstaining from using, that would improve their quality of life.


RaSP is a 3 year research pilot and uses psychometric follow up and program evaluations in order to track progress and make improvements to the program.


Key program components include:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Training
  • Matrix sorting
  • Mindfulness
  • Creating a Life Worth Living
  • Peer Support
  • After RaSP access to ACT Peer Recovery

Participants attend 2 full day group meetings per week for 8 weeks.  The program has an assertive outreach component by RaSP facilitators which involves telephone coaching and follow-up at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months post completion of the program.

What are the requirements to attend RaSP?

  1. Participants must be at least 24 years of age as below this, they access young adult service.
  2. Participants must have completed withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs.
  3. A willingness to complete the program free from intoxication. RaSP is an abstinence-based, harm reduction, post withdrawal model.
  4. Basic English literacy, as there is some reading and writing involved
  5. Attend a Pre-admission appointment prior to commencing RaSP
  6. Commit to 3 life directions based on who and what’s important to you

The 2 Group attendance days are a Tuesday and Thursday, 10am-3.15pm over an 8 week period.

Why get involved?

The program has achieved exceptional completion rates and dramatic change across a range of psychosocial and drug use measures.   RaSP takes a biopsychosocial approach to recovery, and acknowledges that the link between substance use and mental illness is bidirectional. We provide participants with comprehensive wrap around support to assist them to deal with their addictions and co-occurring mental and physical health issues.

In 2017, RaSP was nominated as a finalist in the Victorian Public Health Care Awards, and was highly commended in the Minister for Mental Health Award for clinical excellence in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Victorians.

What do previous participants say about RaSP?

The matrix is life changing”

“RaSP helped me focus my mind”

“The matrix opened my eyes to my behaviours”

“The facilitators have a real knowledge of addiction”

 “Gained strategies, connections, peer support, knowledge and personal growth”

“Confidence, friendships, laughter and learning”

For people not linked with any Drug and Alcohol or Public Adult Mental Health Service, contact RaSP Facilitators to discuss entry to the program.


Please refer to the RaSP Flyer for more information about entry into RaSP.


We invite you to sit with feelings of discomfort, and continue to work towards creating a life worth living!

For Health Professionals

Services wanting to refer clients to RaSP are requested to email new referrals providing completed Step One: Initial Screen: Client Self-Assessment and Step Two: Comprehensive AOD Assessment via email to Please note, our intake day is Monday only of each week. Referrals received through the week, will be responded to on Mondays.


Both Step one and step two assessment documents can be downloaded here:


Please refer to the RaSP Flyer for more information about referral to RaSP.


38 Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy, VIC 3065

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

For referral please submit an eForm