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In psychiatry, people with addiction represent one of the largest patient groups in percentage terms.

For people with substance problems, authoritarian prescriptions to change or abstain from consumption often do not achieve sustainable change,1 because the patient remains what he or she is, addicted.2 In terms of high-risk drug use, poly-drug use (use of several substance groups) involving opioids plays the central role in Austria. Currently, there are between 31,000 and 37,000 people in Austria with high-risk opioid use, mostly in combination with other illicit drugs, alcohol and psychopharmaceuticals. 9,300 to 14,800 are predominantly injecting users.3

Substitution therapy is the treatment of choice for opioid dependence and an extension to abstinence-oriented forms of treatment. The treatment goals are freedom from symptoms, a good quality of life in the family, partnership and parenthood, the ability to work and learn, success in education and career, as well as the prevention of complications and “risk reduction”,2 which can be individually achieved by the patient in the context of substitution treatment in close cooperation with the treating physician with the available active substances.


1 Kurz M. Addiction – diagnosis and therapy. Psychopraxis, 2011, 5-6: 21-24.

2 Haltmayer H. et al. Consensus statement “Substitution-assisted treatment of opioid addicts.” Addiction Medicine Forsch. Prax., 2009, 11: 281-297.

3 Austrian Federal Institute of Public Health. Report on the drug situation 2020. Gesundheit Österreich GmbH Vienna, 2020. (accessed: 03.2021).