Greater Bendigo ranks second for heroin-involved overdose deaths if regional Victoria over the last five years.
Data released by the Coroner's Court of Victoria shows that between 2014 and 2018 Greater Bendigo recorded 18 deaths from heroin-involved overdoses.
Greater Geelong tops the regional Victorian list with 38 deaths in the five-year period. In the whole of regional Victoria there were 130 deaths from 2014-18.
The number of deaths across the whole of Victoria has dropped by 10 per cent but the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association is still concerned the number is too high.
Bendigo Community Health Services non-residential alcohol and other drug programs team manager Jan Dunlop said the organisation had seen an increase of heroin use in Bendigo.
"Use of heroin and prescription drugs has grown in towns of every size," she said.
"It's often perceived as a problem of the inner city but illicit drug use has been prevalent in rural areas for a long time.
"It's (also) common to also see higher rates of alcohol abuse, tobacco use and methamphetamine use in rural areas among adults."
Ms Dunlop said limited resources for prevention, treatment and recovery in rural communities made it difficult to combat substance abuse.
"We need to start by combating the stigma and judgement related to alcohol and drug use so we can come together to support, educate and understand the disease of addiction," she said.
BCHS can provide Naloxone, which can 'reverse' the effects of an opioid overdose. It works for illegal drugs such as heroin and prescribed opioid drugs such as oxycontin.
"It is not the person having the overdose that can reverse the effects it is the person nearby," Ms Dunlop said. "Our staff can provide a Naloxone script and training - this takes about 10 minutes.
"It's important that we increase community knowledge around Naloxone which can mean the difference between life and death by reversing the effects of an opioid overdose with no side effects.
"It's important anyone who uses prescribed or illegal opioids to learn more about Naloxone and ensure friends and family know had it's administered."
VAADA executive officer Sam Biondo called for more funding for harm reduction programs.
"The number of people dying from heroin related overdoses should be a major concern everyone in Victoria," he said.
"We need a comprehensive and community-wide approach with increased funding for programs that reduce drug harms including increased access to harm reduction programs in the community and increased access and opportunities to drug treatment."
Mr Biondo said the Medically Supervised Injecting Room in North Richmond had helped reduce overdoses that could have led to more deaths.
"Without the availability of this facility the number of people dying in the area would be significantly higher," he said. "This is an extremely complex issue with no 'easy' solutions."
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.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.