Stark jump in pre­scrip­tion drug deaths

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Taelor Pelusey

Pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion abuse at an un­prece­dented rate in the Capes re­gion has prompted men­tal health ex­perts to call for change to the way drug use is treated.

Aus­tralia’s An­nual Over­dose Re­port 2018, pro­duced by the not­for-profit Pen­ing­ton In­sti­tute, re­vealed 28 peo­ple died from drugs in the Mar­garet River and Bus­sel­ton area be­tween 2012 and 2016, with opi­oids the top killers.

It was a stark jump from 20022006, dur­ing which seven lo­cal deaths by over­dose were recorded.

While am­phet­a­mines were a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem, the ben­zo­di­azepine or “benzo” fam­ily is an­other ma­jor prob­lem, with at­trib­ut­able deaths dou­bling in re­cent years.

South West Coun­selling se­nior coun­sel­lor Deb­bie Ge­orge said opi­ate abuse of­ten re­sulted from high­level painkillers pre­scribed for back prob­lems, or from black-mar­ket opi­ate med­i­ca­tion to sub­sti­tute heroin.

Pen­ing­ton chief ex­ec­u­tive John Ryan chief ex­ec­u­tive John Ryan urged the Gov­ern­ment to fo­cus on drug-use mat­ters as a health, rather than le­gal prob­lem.

South West Com­mu­nity Al­co­hol & Drug Ser­vice man­ager Johnathan Farr said sub­stance de­pen­dence should “cer­tainly be treated as a health is­sue”.

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