Prescribing for Patients who use Drugs and Alcohol

Non-Medical Prescribing Update Training

1 day
Up to 35 delegates

The Course Aim 

Drug and alcohol use are common. 1 in 3 adults WILL use illicit drugs sometime during their life and 1 in 6 adults drink at “increasing risk” levels. These figures present us with a difficult task: How can clinicians safely prescribe for patients in this cohort? This course will examine this challenging area through an interactive exploration of both drug and alcohol use and appropriate prescribing within this context for both the experienced or inexperienced Non-Medical Prescriber.


Learning outcomes

By the end of the session participants should be able to:
• Discuss the prevalence of illicit drug and alcohol use in the UK and the potential impact on your prescribing
• Undertake a basic drug and alcohol history relevant to a generalist NMP
• Understand the consequences of illicit drug and alcohol use on the health of your patient
• Differentiate treatment options for these presentations and when it is appropriate to prescribe e.g. treatment of depression when the patient has an alcohol use disorder
• Prescribe safely for other physical and mental health presentations that may be independent of the patient’s drug or alcohol use
• Describe illicit and/or alcohol and licit drug interactions and their relevance when making prescribing decisions


Course content

• Overview of the impact and prevalence of drug and alcohol use in the UK including some basic nomenclature on drug and alcohol use disorders
• How do I take a basic drug and alcohol history for my patients?
• What is the impact of drug and/or alcohol use on my patients’ physical and/or mental health?
• Is prescribing an option when patients present with these conditions and how do I decide?
• Prescribing safely for patients with chronic health conditions who use illicit drugs and/or alcohol
• Illicit drug/alcohol – prescribed drug interactions: are they important or relevant?


Graham Parsons has been a practicing pharmacist since 1991 after graduating from the University of Bath in 1990. After working in a variety of community pharmacy roles, Graham started working in the Plymouth Substance Misuse Service in 2003 and joined NHS Plymouth in 2005 as a specialist substance misuse medicines management advisor. In 2007 Graham became a prescriber within the Plymouth Addiction Service after completing his prescribing certificate and was appointed a Pharmacist with Special Interest in Substance Misuse by Plymouth teaching Primary Care Trust in 2009.

In 2010 Graham was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) for a three-year term.  After a brief period of time between 2013 and 2015 working as a clinical pharmacist and prescriber in a number of GP Practices and a medicines optimisation pharmacist for NHS NEW Devon CCG, Graham returned to the Substance Misuse field as a Pharmacist with Turning Point in September 2015.  

Since 2015 Graham has worked on the medicines optimisation agenda within Turning Point and as a pharmacist prescriber.  He is now Chief Pharmacist for Turning Point.

On a personal level Graham enjoys football and studying and in 2016 completed a BA in History with the Open University. Graham has a wonderful family which is a major part of his life and, when not working or studying, where he can often be found on the North Cornwall coast at our holiday home in Perranporth.