Graduate Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Nursing
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1 Year Part-time

Study mode



January & July



“The specialist drug and alcohol nurse is required to provide specialised leadership, expert knowledge and nursing skills to assess, identify and respond to complex problems of individuals and families affected by drug and alcohol related health conditions, including dependence and mental and/or physical health comorbidities. . .” (Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia 2012, p.4)

The need for more postgraduate education has been on the agenda of the NSW Ministry of Health’s Drug and Alcohol Nursing Advisory Committee’s Workforce development plan since at least 2010.

Studying drug and alcohol nursing with ACN will provide you with the knowledge and skills for the provision and coordination of patient centred care in this growing specialty. The aim is to encourage professional and ethical understanding of clinical practice development for the improvement of patient outcomes. Our course is written by specialist nurses, for nurses and students are supported by a team of clinical experts, working within the speciality.

Course overview

This course will provide students with an understanding of substance use issues from both an individual and public health perspective. Students will explore a range of opinions around the policy of harm minimisation and the socio-political aspects of substance use. Biological and psychological models of both causes and treatments are reviewed. Assessment and nursing care of intoxication, overdose and withdrawal are examined. Specialised skills in motivational interviewing, relapse prevention, pharmacotherapy services, case management, co-morbidities and complex care will be studied. The importance of primary health care interventions is emphasised.

Students complete 4 core units of study.

Career outcomes

A Graduate Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Nursing is an investment in your future and will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure better outcomes for your patients and progress your career, leading to opportunities in clinical education, management and specialist nursing roles. Nurses completing this course will be prepared to work in pharmacotherapy treatment clinics, consultation and liaison service, general drug and alcohol treatment services, drug and alcohol detoxification units and rehabilitation centres.

At successful completion of the course students should be able to:

  • examine the causes, incidence and prevalence of substance use and critically analyse government policy and strategy
  • discuss the importance of the health professional’s attitude and cultural sensitivity in working with clients, families and significant others in the drug and alcohol context
  • perform a holistic drug and alcohol assessment and determine an appropriate therapeutic response rationalising the use of pharmacotherapies and psychosocial interventions
  • evaluate evidence based, best practice nursing care of people with substance intoxication, overdose and withdrawal
  • discuss case management care with the multidisciplinary team
  • analyse and appraise public health approaches and primary health care models in the drug and alcohol context.

Maximise your qualification

Once you’ve completed the Graduate Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Nursing, you could be one year of study* from an online Master of Nursing with University of Canberra (UC). Develop advanced knowledge and skills in leadership, management, research, health-care improvement and evidence-based practice. Gain 12 credit points from your previous studies with ACN towards UC’s Master of Nursing, with only one year of study* needed to complete your degree. Study at your own pace with a degree that’s entirely online and convenient for you.

ACN graduates may be eligible for advanced standing in Master Programs of other universities.

*Based on a fulltime study load.

The Graduate Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Nursing is a one year course, consisting of four 10-week terms.

Students will need to complete 4 core units. One unit is studied per term.

Approximate hours of study are 12 – 15 hours per week.

Units of study

Please note: Drug and Alcohol Nursing Practice (259) will not be available after the April 2020 term, as the Graduate Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Nursing is currently being re-written. Further details will be available soon. Please register your interest to be the first to know when applications are open.

Unit typeUnit name & pricing

Course codes
10 015 2011 (January 2020 intake)
10 015 2012 (July 2020 intake)

Term 1 - CoreDrug and Alcohol Nursing Practice (259), Tier 1
Term 2 - CorePublic and Primary Health Care: Drug and Alcohol (287), Tier 1
Term 3 - CoreAddiction Nursing (276)*, Tier 1
Term 4 - CoreComplex Care – Drug and Alcohol (289)**, Tier 1
*259 is a pre-requisite and must be completed first.
**259 and 276 are both pre-requisites and must be completed first.

ACN offers two intakes per year in January and July. Important dates including start and census dates can be found here.

Flexible intakes in April and October may be available, please contact our Customer Services team for further details.


Tiers2020 Non-member price2020 Member price (10% discount)
Tier 1$2,230.00$2,007.00
Tier 2$2,550.00$2,295.00
Tier 3$2,995.00$2,695.50
Tier 4$3,580.00$3,222.00

Fees are subject to change without notice.

ACN offers a flexible payment option allowing students to pay their fees on a term-by-term basis. Each term’s fees are due upfront, prior to term commencement.

FEE-HELP is also available for eligible students. Further information can be found here.

Want to save on course fees?

Being a part of the ACN community allows nurses to be the best they can be and strengthen the voice of nursing through a range of invaluable benefits, including 10% off graduate certificates and other education offerings, exclusive networking events, access to support and advice on ACN’s online engagement platform neo, free online CPD courses and opportunities to be involved in shaping health care policy. Find out more and join our tribe today!

Admission to GC courses is based on academic merit and selection. In addition, applicants must satisfy any prerequisites or additional requirements specified for particular courses, including ACN’s general eligibility criteria.

All applicants seeking admission are required to:

  • hold a Bachelor of Nursing or registered nurse* equivalent qualification
  • be currently registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) or the equivalent registering authority in your country of origin
  • have a minimum of one year postgraduate experience
  • be currently employed in an appropriate clinical setting.

*For some GC units of study, consideration may be given for applicants who are not registered nurses on an individual basis.

Ruth Green, Nurse Educator – Higher Education

RN, MN (Clin Teach), Grad Cert (Clin Teach), Cert Orthopaedic Nursing (NSWCN), Cert IV TAE, Cert IV WHS

Ruth coordinates both our Graduate Certificates in Drug and Alcohol Nursing and Orthopaedic Nursing.

Ruth has been nursing for over 30 years, mainly in orthopaedics and education, where her passion lies.

Ruth is passionate about lifelong learning and sees education as a key component to ensuring quality nursing care, improved patient outcomes and nurse satisfaction.

Please ensure you read all course information and make sure you meet entry requirements prior to commencing the application form.

Applications for enrolment will not be progressed until all relevant documentation has been received by Customer Services.

Course codes: 10 015 2011 (January 2020 intake)
10 015 2012 (July 2020 intake)

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Contact us

Need more information? Register your interest to be contacted by a Nurse Educator who can discuss the course in further detail with you.

For general course information:
Customer Services
t: 02 9745 7500