Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT)

Depot Buprenorphine (Buvidal) in custody


What is Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT)?

  • OAT (previously called OST) is an effective treatment for heroin and other opioid addiction. The longer you stay on OAT, the more likely you are to stop using opioids.
  • In NSW Correctional Centres, the injectable Buprenorphine (Buvidal) is the preferred treatment for managing addiction to opioids.
  • Anyone entering custody on OAT continues on treatment (unless there is a medical or health reason why they should not). If you were on Suboxone in the community, you will be moved to Buvidal.

Good things about Buvidal

  • No need for daily dosing
  • Less likely to be hassled for your dose
  • You can lead a healthier lifestyle
  • Reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduces the risk of HIV or hepatitis C infection
  • Helps you to keep or get a job.

Not so good things about Buvidal

  • Injection is sometimes a bit painful, itchy, swollen and may cause some bruising.
  • Some patients have side effects like constipation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, but these usually settle quickly.
  • Buvidal can be dangerous or cause death if it’s not used correctly.

If you have an opiod use disorder and want to start Buvidal

  • You will need to be seen by a Drug and Alcohol nurse and doctor to make sure that Buvidal is right for you.
  • Put in a Patient Self-Referral Form asking to be seen by the Drug and Alcohol service.
  • You can also ask a nurse in your local health centre to refer you.
  • The nurse can talk to you about different treatment options, and what can happen when you inject.
  • You may also like to talk with the Services and Programs Officer (SAPO) about counselling services and special programs offered by Corrective Services, such as Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program, EQUIP Addictions, Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse – Pathways.

Before you can start, you need to agree to OAT treatment

  • If you are suitable to start on Buvidal, you will need to sign a Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network OAT agreement before you can begin treatment.
  • The agreement explains your rights and responsibilities while you are on the OAT program.
  • Please make sure you understand what you are signing.
  • If you don’t understand what something means, ask a nurse to explain it to you.

Starting Buvidal

At the start, you will need to go to the health centre a few times. You may feel a bit sleepy when you first start Buvidal – it’s important you tell the nurse if you feel too drowsy. It may take up to six weeks to feel stable.

You will know you are on the right dose when you are:

  • feeling comfortable
  • not craving heroin or other opioids
  • not feeling sleepy or drowsy.

Important information

  • If you start on Buvidal, you must not drive or use heavy machinery for up to six weeks after your first dose. You should also be careful after any dose increase.
  • Taking other drugs such as heroin, alcohol or pills (like Valium or Xanax) with your Buvidal can cause overdose and death.
  • The nurses cannot give you your Buvidal injection if you are intoxicated.

useful tips buvidal.JPG

Buvidal on release

If you are on Budival, please tell the nurse about six weeks before you are due for release.

You may need to get your Buvidal injection early. This may help you delay your need for the first visit to the clinic in the community. Please give your address on release so that staff can book your first visit for your injection in the community.

Your prescription will be sent to the community clinic directly from the local Health Centre before your release, and it will be valid for one injection.

Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network cannot extend prescriptions for Buvidal once you are released.

It’s important that you find a health service in the community that can prescribe Buvidal when you get out and before your script runs out.

If you are on Budival in custody and get unexpectedly released

If you are unexpectedly released from a public Correctional Centre, and need help to arrange dosing in the community call (02) 9700 2101 Monday to Friday between 8am and 4pm.

On weekends and public holidays, go to the clinic you were at before you came into custody or the nearest dosing clinic and tell them you have been released from custody.

If you are on Budival in a private correctional centre and get unexpectedly released

Call the health staff at that centre to arrange the prescription for you so that you can continue Buvidal in the community.

Useful contacts on release Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW - Call 1800 250 015 (free call) Opioid Treatment Line - Call 1800 642 428 (free call)