McIvor Times

Dangers Associated with Rising Drug Prices

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Bendigo Community Health Services (BCHS) is warning that the skyrocketi­ng price of illicit drugs will see an increase in demand for prescripti­on medication­s. The BCHS Alcohol and Other Drugs team said the price spike could put drugs out of reach of some people forcing them onto prescripti­on medication­s such as Benzos and opioids which are dangerous if used incorrectl­y. Rising drug prices and COVID-19 lockdown restrictio­ns could also force some people into home withdrawal which could prove life-threatenin­g without the support of a GP or health profession­al. BCHS Drug Safety Worker Paul Morgan said AOD team members had been alerted to the rise in drug prices from concerned consumers and other support agencies. “When illicit drugs become too expensive, or the quality drops, or access becomes an issue in times such as these COVID-19 lockdowns, we know people turn to prescripti­on medication­s as the alternativ­e,” Mr Morgan said. “It’s important for people to remember that any opioid when used incorrectl­y is very dangerous and the threat of overdose remains very real.

Prescripti­on medication­s should only be used to treat the conditions they are prescribed for and following the directions very clearly at all times. “Anyone using opioids - legal or illegal - should have access to Naloxone, an injection or nasal spray which temporaril­y reverses the effects of an overdose and gives you time to get emergency services involved. Our AOD team provides Naloxone prescripti­ons and basic training on its use. This should be considered essential if you use opioids or spend any time with someone who does.” Mr

Morgan said rising drug prices and the COVID-19 lockdown could also force people into withdrawal. “Withdrawin­g alone at home is dangerous. If you are forced into withdrawal or make a lifestyle choice to stop using drugs or alcohol this must be done under the care of your doctor or a health profession­al. Withdrawal needs to be carefully monitored to ensure your safety,” he said.

Mr Morgan said people should also monitor alcohol consumptio­n during lockdown. “We have been seeing people drinking more during lockdowns and this is a worrying trend. Habits can form quickly and while we aren’t saying people shouldn’t drink, we are saying they must be careful around the amount of alcohol they are consuming,” he said. Mr Morgan’s warning comes as the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2019-2020 report shows around 469,000 people aged 10 and over had treatment for alcohol or other drug use. The report shows alcohol represente­d 33 per cent of those treatments, followed by amphetamin­es at 28 per cent, cannabis 18 per cent and heroin five per cent. Bendigo Community Health Services Alcohol and Other Drug programs such as pharmacoth­erapy, Needle Syringe Program and Nova House will operate as essential services through the present Victorian COVID-19 lockdown. Learn more about the Bendigo Community Health Services alcohol and other drugs support programs at www.bchs.com. au or by calling 5406 1200.

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