People with substance use problems frequently present to mainstream health services with a variety of health issues. However, many medical and allied health-care providers feel under-equipped to respond to this population. We describe the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS), an established 24/7 telephone-delivered model of addiction specialist consultation, and examine recent call data to identify drug use issues for which health practitioners seek support.
Methods of DACAS service provision and call data collection are provided. A retrospective review of routinely collected call data between July 2013 and June 2018 was performed, extracting information on call and caller characteristics, and consultation details.
During 2013-2018, DACAS responded to 6565 calls, providing access to specialist alcohol and other drug support for more than 1200 practitioners across Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory annually. Higher rates of service use were found among practitioners located in regional and remote areas, relative to those in metropolitan areas. Opioid agonist treatment was the most common drug class for which practitioners sought consultation (39.5%), followed by other opioids (19.4%). Advice-seeking patterns differed according to caller profession, service setting and location.
DACAS is providing a multistate-level response to the challenges of accessing specialist addiction treatment, particularly for opioid agonist treatment and other opioid issues, with demonstrated uptake in regional and remote areas. This telephone-delivered service provides an opportunity to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorder and other substance use problems, particularly in areas with less equitable access to specialist addiction care.

© 2020 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.