DRUG REPORT SPARKS CALL FOR TOUGHER CONTROLS
ABUSE OF LEGAL DRUGS IS ON THE RISE
MORE than four people a year are dying from drug overdoses across the Campaspe region.
And alarmingly most deaths are from prescription painkillers.
According to Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2018, 18 people died of a drug-related death in the shire from 2012-16, a jump of eight deaths compared to 2002-06.
These include accidental deaths, suicides, homicides and those of undetermined intent.
Campaspe-based Rural Doctors Association of Victoria president Suzanne Harrison said the codeine ban had been a small step in the right direction as over-the-counter sales had contributed to the rising abuse of prescription drugs.
However, she said many patients were now pressuring, even threatening, doctors for these drugs to be prescribed,
‘‘I think most medical staff know that narcotics are not the answer to chronic pain issues,’’ she said.
‘‘We know that physio, exercise etc are of much greater value in returning to function, recognising that complete relief of chronic pain is an unlikely outcome and that narcotics are likely to potentiate pain with long-term use.
"However there is significant difficulty in accessing and funding specialist pain management services and the allied health support necessary to improve outcomes and return of function.
‘‘I also have concerns regarding the reluctance of many patients to engage in this approach, preferring to take a pill rather than time and effort involved in this approach.
‘‘For many of our patients these issues are just the tip of the iceberg of intergenerational trauma and a much more supportive and proactive approach for our very young community members is needed. However this takes a whole of community approach and lots of effort.’’
John Ryan, the chief executive of Penington Institute, which produced the report, said these figure were alarming.
‘‘The number of drug-related deaths in this region of Victoria, including Echuca, Kyabram and Rochester, is heading in the wrong direction and that is really concerning,’’ he said.
‘‘From 2001 to 2016, the drug type claiming the most lives in the area is, unsurprisingly, opioids such as codeine, heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl.’’
The new report reveals sleeping tablets/ anxiety tablets (known as “Benzos”) have become a hidden epidemic killing large numbers of Australians each year.
The number of deaths involving “Benzos” has doubled in just a decade.
Mr Ryan said they have become a silent killer and the deadliness of Benzodiazepines was clearly being grossly underestimated.
From 2001-2016 7088 Australians died through overdoses involving Benzodiazepines. In Australia, the number of deaths involving “Benzos” has jumped from 812 (2002-2006) to 2177 (2012-2016).
Deaths involving amphetamines (including crystal methamphetamine or “ice”) have also grown considerably in the past five years. Amphetamines now surpass alcohol as the third most common substance detected in accidental drug related deaths. For the period 2012 to 2016, there was a huge 1237 deaths compared to 298 for the period 2002 to 2006.
Most overdoses involve a number of drugs. The new report also reveals middle-aged Australians are the people far more likely to die of an accidental drug overdose in this country.
In 2016, a massive 68 per cent of all accidental drug deaths were people aged 30 to 59. The people most likely to die of an accidental drug overdose are aged 40 to 49.
A growing number of women are now dying from accidental drug overdoses.
There has been a massive 87 per cent increase in prescription opioid deaths from 2008 to 2014 in Australia.