This module covers abuse and misuse of illicit drugs and substances and prescription medicines. Substance that are subject to abuse include plants, fungi, inhalants and even foods such as caffeine and guarana.

Mitigating the risks for people who decide to take illicit drugs is a focus of the harm reduction strategies that form the basis of Australia’s National Drug Strategy.

Misuse of medicines can include:

  • Overuse: taking more than prescribed or directed on the packet, either in one dose or over time
  • Intentional misuse: taking medicine in a different way to what’s recommended, such as injecting or snorting
  • Using medicines without a prescription or ongoing medical supervision
  • Combining medicines, including combining illicit drugs with other drugs or alcohol
  • Driving, working or caring for children when taking medicines that are sedating or may impair judgement or concentration
  • Sharing or selling prescription medicines with friends, family or colleagues.

There may be limited information available for some drugs and substances. It is also important to consider the ethical and legal implications that may surround an enquiry about substance misuse (this subject is covered in Module 6: Ethical Dilemmas).

Accreditation number for this module: S2019/110

This module has been accredited for 1 hour of Group-1 CPD (or 1 CPD credit) or 1 hour of Group-2 CPD (or 2 CPD credits) upon successful completion of the module's Test yourself multiple choice questions, suitable for inclusion in an individual pharmacist’s CPD plan.