Drugs of dependence

What are drugs of dependence?

The use of drugs of dependence in South Australia is regulated by the controlled substances legislation and monitored by SA Health’s Drugs of Dependence Unit (DDU). The DDU helps ensure South Australians continue to have access to appropriate treatment while minimising the potential harms associated with drug dependence, misuse, and diversion.

Drugs of dependence are prescription medicines that have a recognised therapeutic need but also a higher potential for misuse, abuse and dependence. The Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) classifies poisons and medicines into different schedules (for example schedule 4 – Prescription Only Medicine and Schedule 8 – Controlled drug).

What you need to know about drugs of dependence


South Australia’s Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) ScriptCheckSA was released at the end of March 2021 and provides real-time information to support clinical decision making so that prescribers and pharmacists can make safer decisions when prescribing and dispensing monitored drugs.

Alerts in ScriptCheckSA indicate that the prescription history for a patient has met certain criteria for high-risk or medium-risk circumstances and this information should be considered when making clinical decisions.

The online Privileged Circular has been integrated into ScriptCheckSA and will trigger a high-risk alert (red) in the prescription history, and a badge on the patient’s profile, so that it is easy for practitioners to identify, in real-time, if a patient has been listed on the circular and to take appropriate action at the time a medicine is prescribed or dispensed.

ScriptCheckSA Alert

AHPRA registered prescribers (including nurse practitioners and practitioners with scheduled medicines endorsement) and pharmacists are encouraged to register and access ScriptCheckSA to access Privileged Circular information.

Registration, access to the online training modules and a direct link to ScriptCheckSA can be accessed from the landing page and more information can be found at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/scriptchecksa. Questions about ScriptCheckSA should be directed to Health.RTPM@sa.gov.au.  

If you are not eligible to access ScriptCheckSA please notify HealthDrugsofDependenceUnit@sa.gov.au  with your preferred email address so that alternative arrangements can be made to continue to provide you with access to the Privileged Circular.  

The existing online Privileged Circular is now decommissioned.

Further information

For more information on drugs of dependence, contact the Drugs of Dependence Unit.

Drugs of Dependence Unit

Phone: 1300 652 584
Fax: 1300 658 447
Email:  HealthDrugsofDependenceUnit@sa.gov.au
Post: PO Box 6, Rundle Mall, Adelaide South Australia 5000