DASSA services for health professionals

Clinical advice and related services

Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS)

DACAS provides a telephone and email service for South Australian health professionals seeking clinical information and clarification around clinical procedures, guidelines and evidence-based practice. This service does not provide proxy medical cover and cannot assume responsibility for direct patient care.

DACAS is available 24/7 for urgent overnight matters to hospital consultants, registrars and general practitioners covering emergency departments in rural/remote settings.

More information, resources and factsheets can be found on the DACAS web page.

Referrals for alcohol and/or drug withdrawal

Referrals from the community

Many patients/clients can be safely withdrawn from drugs in the community. For more information visit the substance withdrawal management page.

  • Some clients/patients require an inpatient withdrawal (for people with high severity alcohol dependence with a history of seizures or delirium).
  • The DASSA Withdrawal Services are located at Glenside. To arrange an admission ask the patient/client to contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1300 13 13 40.
  • Send referral information (including the patient/client’s contact details).

Fax: (08) 7087 1750 (follow-up with phone call if you feel it is needed (08) 7087 1700)

Email: Health.DASSAWithdrawalServicesAdministration@sa.gov.au

For more information visit the DASSA Referral information page.

If the situation is unclear then either:

Referrals from acute hospitals

Direct transfers from acute hospitals to DASSA Withdrawal Services can be arranged for higher risk patients needing inpatient withdrawal, who have been medically cleared, are not subject to any Mental Health Treatment Orders, are not needing IV treatment, and are able to attend to their own activities of daily living. Transfer may be able to be arranged same day, but is often deferred to the following day due to bed availability.

  • refer to your own Organization Wide Instructions regarding this, or
  • contact your Drug and Alcohol Consultation Liaison Service if at FMC, RAH or LMHS, or
  • call the DASSA Withdrawal Services Liaison Nurse or Coordinator (08) 7087 1700 between 0800 and 1700hrs seven days per week.

Referrals to DASSA community based outpatient clinics – metropolitan and country

DASSA is able to provide a range of services for patients or clients referred by general practitioners, specialists and other service providers. DASSA provides ongoing care for patients and clients needing multi-disciplinary medical, nursing and allied health interventions.

Clients/patients needing less intensive interventions will be referred to other services. (e.g. those who have already ceased their substance use, or reduced it to low levels who are primarily needing relapse prevention interventions).

Service responses available through DASSA are as follows:


Referred patients/client will undergo an initial comprehensive assessment by a clinical staff member. Appropriate treatment options will be explored. The DASSA clinician will communicate the outcome of this assessment back to the referring service.

Clinical advice regarding ongoing care

Many people will have been well managed by their GP, specialist or other service, who may only require some additional specialist advice to continue with management.

Referring doctors can:

Therapeutic counselling

  • DASSA is able to provide counselling services for those people seeking to overcome drug dependence. Such counselling is usually given for people with complex presentations with the need for ongoing multi-disciplinary medical, nursing and allied health interventions.
  • Clients/patients may be referred on to services within the non-government sector depending on their needs. This will be discussed with the client and the referring service will be informed.

For patients/clients with opioid dependence DASSA can provide:

  • Review of people referred because of concerns related to their use of prescription opioids for chronic pain: A comprehensive initial assessment and a medical assessment will be undertaken followed by a letter sent to the referring GP with copies to other appropriate bodies, such as the Drugs of Dependence Unit. Assessment outcomes may range from advice regarding continued GP management to a recommendation that the patient is best treated with methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone due to the development of drug addiction.
  • Initiation of pharmacotherapy treatment: DASSA doctors are able to implement a range of pharmacotherapy treatments for dependence to a variety of drugs. Methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone are commonly used for long term opioid treatment.
    DASSA can commence and stabilise a patient/client on Suboxone and transfer them back to their GP for ongoing care if requested.
  • A take-over of existing treatment authority: DASSA metropolitan outpatient clinics are able to take over the authority for treatment for those people who become non-compliant or de-stabilised whilst under GP care. This may be a temporary or permanent arrangement depending on the wishes of the GP and the outcome from specialist treatment.

Other medication based treatments

Besides opioid dependence, some other substance dependencies can be treated with medications. For alcohol dependence, acamprosate, naltrexone or disulfiram are the more frequently prescribed medications.

DASSA clinicians can commence these and provide advice back to the referring GP or specialist regarding their continuing them.

Modafinil can be used to assist with methamphetamine withdrawal by DASSA services as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Referral back to GP treatment when stabilised

As with most specialist services, patients are generally referred back to their GP when their clinical situation has stabilised.

DASSA operated Aboriginal drug and alcohol services

These services include:

  • Aboriginal Connection Program based in metropolitan Adelaide
  • Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) Substance Misuse Service

For more information visit the Aboriginal services and program page.

The Woolshed

The Woolshed is a residential therapeutic community for men and women aged from 18 years with drug or alcohol related problems. The Woolshed offers a structured program to develop living, work and interpersonal skills through education, counselling, group work and recreational activities. It has associated halfway houses in Adelaide and links with self-help groups.

For more information read the Woolshed brochure (PDF 1.2MB)

Patients or clients interested should ring the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1300 13 13 40 to arrange an initial interview with Woolshed staff.

DASSA Obstetric Unit

The DASSA Obstetric Unit is a specialist service for substance-using pregnant women and their partners from conception until after the baby’s birth. The service provides assessment, treatment, education, support and advocacy to ensure the safest outcome for mother and baby.

This service is provided at the Women's and Children's Hospital, Lyell McEwin Health Service and Flinders Medical Centre.

For initial advice contact the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service on (08) 7087 1742.

Hospital Drug and Alcohol Consultation Liaison Service

Available only for hospital patients. Not for community referrals.

A specialist medical and nursing service that provides consultation and liaison on alcohol and other drug related problems to clinicians in the acute care setting of major public hospitals in South Australia. This service is provided at Flinders Medical Centre, Lyell McEwin Health Service and the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

This is only available for these three hospitals and further details can be obtained from the following SALHN intranet page.

For health professionals in other hospitals, contact the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (08) 7087 1741.

Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI)

Young people and adults detected by the police for simple possession drug offences can be diverted from the criminal justice system into education, assessment and treatment through the Police Drug Diversion Initiative.

DASSA is responsible for the statewide coordination of the program as well as the Drug Diversion Line, a 24-hour telephone appointment and referral service.

Telephone: (08) 7425 5000. For more information visit the Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI) page or the clinical information page.

Clean Needle Program

The Clean Needle Program (CNP) is an important public health initiative that reduces the spread of blood borne viruses including HIV and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs and the wider community. For more information visit the Clean Needle Program page.

Other DASSA services for clinicians and other health professionals

Community Pharmacy Program

The Community Pharmacy Program recruits community pharmacies to participate in both the Maintenance Pharmacotherapies Program and the Clean Needle Program. The program provides information, professional advice and support, while ensuring efficacy, safety and practice standards are maintained within DASSA and participating community pharmacies. For more information visit the information for pharmacist page.

SA Health Library Service (alcohol and other drugs)

Ground floor, Glenside Campus Administration and Learning Services Building
Fullarton Road, Glenside SA 5065
Telephone: (08) 7087 1202
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
For more information visit the SA Health Library Service page.

General Practitioner Program

The General Practitioner (GP) Program provides support to prescribers of medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence (MATOD) including the provision of training, clinical resources and education. For more information visit the GP Program page.

Education and training

There is a range of drug and alcohol-related training options available in South Australia, for people with differing levels of qualification, expertise and interest. For more information visit the training and education page.