The devastating impact of ice and other highly addictive illicit drugs has been well documented in regional Victoria over the past decade. We’ve all heard about how ice use can turn someone’s life upside down. Methamphetamine is well-known for its highly addictive properties, something spelled out all-too-frequently when those who fall into crime to pay for their addictions front court.
What is less highly publicised but no less devastating is the revelation that prescription opioids, such as codeine, oxycodone and fentanyl, are responsible for a growing number of deaths in our part of the world.
More than 41 people died from drug overdoses in the Bendigo region between 2012-2016, with sleeping and anxiety tablets – benzodiazepines – also proving to be a hidden killer. Fatal opioid overdoses first began to emerge as a significant problem between 2009 and 2011, with powerful pain medication fentanyl a major killer. Australians are now misusing or abusing prescription pain killers and opioids like fentanyl unlike any previous time in history, according to a report by the Penington Institute. It has warned that we are on track to experience a US-style overdose crisis with more than 2000 lives lost due to drugs nationwide in 2016.
Penington Institute CEO John Ryan said the figures were alarming and called on the federal government to review the prescribing of fentanyl by GPs. “From 2001 to 2016, the drug type claiming the most lives in the area is unsurprisingly opioids such as codeine, heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl” Mr Ryan said. An Australian block on over-the-counter codeine, an opioid, took effect on February 1 and caused a degree of anxiety and upset among many people who thought vital medication would be suddenly beyond their access. But the fundamental principle behind it was to ensure people who might have been taking it too readily were directed to specialist knowledge to administer and potentially to identify flow on problems like addiction and suggest alternative solutions. Friday is International Overdose Awareness Day. It’s a time to make sure anyone who has issues with drugs or alcohol gets the help needed. We need more education and we need more support.
Have your say
Letters must carry the name, full address and telephone number of the author. The writer’s name and suburb/town will be published. Letters may be edited for space, accuracy, clarity and legal reasons. Letters which are deemed inappropriate will not be published.Send letters to Bendigo Advertiser, PO Box 61, Bendigo 3552 or at bendigoadvertiser.com.au
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.