A dramatic rise of unintentional overdose deaths in Bendigo and surrounding regions is a concern for Bendigo Community Health Service.
The Penington Institute's annual overdose report showed a 137 per cent increase in the amount of unintentional overdose deaths in Bendigo - the second-highest increase in regional Victoria.
BCHS alcohol and other drugs team manager Jan Dunlop said improved resources, more education and a strong community approach can help reduce the number of unintentional overdose deaths in the region.
"It's always a major concern to see figures such as this for Bendigo," she said.
"Research shows that when a community takes on the belief that addiction is a health issue, the stigma around accessing treatment for drug use reduces.
"In countries where this has occurred they tackle it by employing, educating and supporting treatment.
"People can be embarrassed or ashamed of seeking treatment for their drug use and we can't let that happen."
The Penington Institute's report also highlighted prescription drugs as a common contributor to accidental overdose, something Ms Dunlop said was evident in the region.
"Most people think overdoses are associated with illegal drugs such as heroin but the rates are actually higher in prescribed medications and even alcohol," she said.
"So it's important we continue educating the community about the risks and the things people can do to minimise harm."
Ms Dunlop said more education on using prescribed drugs safety was necessary.
"We must recognise that addiction is a health issue that needs a strong community approach," she said.
"Steps such as community education on how to use prescribed medications safely and the heightened risks of misuse such as mixing them with alcohol or using someone else's prescription, support for GPs with training in opiate replacement therapy and providing more access to mental health support.
"The use of stimulants such as (also) ice continues to rise and will always pose a concern along with heroin.
"The risk of overdose with prescription medications increases considerably when people take more than the prescribed dose or mix the medication with other drugs such as alcohol."
Presciption monitoring system SafeScript has been successful in reducing the opportunity to abuse prescription drugs in other parts of the state but Ms Dunlop said continued education was important.
"SafeScript has been introduced across Bendigo after a successful trial in western Victoria with the idea stopping people going from doctor to doctor to get medications," she said.
"This is a great initiative but we need to keep educating the community on the dangers of prescription medication."
BCHS has been raising awareness about Naloxone - a free medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose with no side effects.
"Our alcohol and other drugs team has been raising awareness about Naloxone," Ms Dunlop said.
"It's essential regional Victoria has enough resources to reduce waiting lists and address areas such as co-occurring mental health and alcohol and other drug issues into the future."
BCHS will provide a safe space and information when hosts an International Overdose Day event with the Salvation Army at Bendigo Library Gardens on Friday.
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