Drugs of dependence

What are drugs of dependence?

The use of drugs of dependence (Schedule 8 / Controlled Drugs) 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


ScriptCheckSA was released in 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 indicate that the prescription history for a patient has met certain criteria for high-risk (red alert) or medium-risk (amber alert) circumstances and this information should be considered when making clinical decisions.

Privileged Circular

If a person has been determined on reasonable grounds as having

  1. a history of consuming drugs in a quantity or manner that presents a risk to their health, or
  2. obtained or attempted to obtain drugs by false pretences or other unlawful means, or
  3. obtained or attempted to obtain drugs for an unlawful purpose,

Section 58 of the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) allows information to be published to prescribed persons to help limit further supply of potentially harmful drugs to those people.

The Online Privileged Circular is integrated into ScriptCheckSA. If a person is listed on the Circular, a blue badge can be seen in their ScriptCheckSA profile and  a high-risk (red) alert will be triggered if  monitored drugs are prescribed or dispensed. More information can be found in the Privileged Circular accordion of their profile.

If you are not eligible to register for ScriptCheckSA (i.e. you are not a prescriber or pharmacist), but still require access to the Privileged Circular, please send the completed Privileged Circular Access Application form (PDF 587KB) to HealthDrugsofDependenceUnit@sa.gov.au

Further information


Email: Health.RTPM@sa.gov.au
Website: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/scriptchecksa

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