Rising traces of two powerful painkillers in regional Victorian wastewater are proof opioid use continues to be a problem, a drug safety worker says.
The Bendigo Community Health Services’ Bart McGill said opioid use has not declined in Bendigo, with many treated for chronic pain ending up addicted.
“It’s remained constant and its one of the things we have been trying to keep in people’s minds,” he said.
The comments came as wastewater drug monitoring results at four regional sites had found rising levels of oxycodone and fentanyl.
The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program tested for a number of legal and illegal drugs and found that methylamphetamine, cocaine and heroin had decreased at Victorian regional sites, while MDMA and MDA had gone up.
Nicotine and alcohol remain the highest consumed substances.
Mr McGill said the majority of people coming through the door wanted help with alcohol withdrawal.
However, many of those accessing services were taking two or more legal or illegal drugs.
While there had been a drop in heroin use at regional sites, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission noted Victoria still had the highest amount of heroin consumption in the country.
That does not surprise Mr McGill.
“Heroin never left, it really didn’t. It just wasn’t on people’s minds, i guess,” he said.
Mr McGill said there was help available for those who needed it.
“They can call 5430 0500,” he said.
Last week, the government doubled the funding for a BCHS program to prevent overdoses in central Victoria.
It meant more people could get access to Naloxone, a drug that could reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, whether for heroin or prescribed medications.
Mr McGill encouraged people to have the Naloxone handy. BCHS staff could show people how to use it.
“We also encourage people to get it if they have a friend or family member who is prescribed opiates,” he said.
“It can save someone’s life.”
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.