The ‘poster child’ of Australia’s opioid crisis

By: Michael Dutton, ABC News, Melbourne – January 28, 2020: Australia’s heroin problem has reached its “poster-child” level, with a rise in overdose deaths, and the death toll rising rapidly, a federal coroner has said.

A report by the Coroner of Victoria said it was the first time a coronial inquest had heard of a death from the opioid overdose.

A number of deaths from overdoses involving prescription opioids, which were used by more than 20 per cent of Australians between July and December last year, have been recorded since December.

The coronial inquiry heard of the death of 19-year-old James Broughton, who died on Christmas Eve in March after suffering a fatal overdose.

James Broughson, 19, died of a fatal opioid overdose on Christmas day, aged 19.

He was a member of the Broughston gang, from St Albans, east of Melbourne, that was known for drugs and violence.

A coroner’s report released last week also found that the number of fatal overdoses involving illicit drugs had risen to 9,096 in the first nine months of 2020, compared to 7,824 the same period in the same year a year earlier.

In a statement, the Department of Health said the numbers were likely to continue to rise, noting that the death rate from the drug is on the rise, despite the introduction of a number of new drugs.

“Despite the introduction and availability of some new drugs, we still see significant numbers of people dying from the use of illicit drugs,” the department said.

“This is due to the high cost of the drug and its abuse and its consequences.”

The coronational inquiry into the drug’s effects found that prescription opioids were responsible for an estimated 1.2 million deaths in the year to September, with the majority of them occurring in young people.

The findings have prompted a review of the national prescription drug plan and recommended that all new prescription drugs should be restricted to the use for prescribed purposes.

It said the government must continue to develop a national prescription program that would provide treatment and support to those addicted to prescription drugs, but only to the extent it was medically necessary and proportionate to the harms to society and the health system.

“We also acknowledge that there are some countries that have already been successful in reducing opioid prescribing,” the coroner’s office said.

The report found there were four ways the government could address the problem: reducing the number, the cost, the availability and the accessibility of prescription opioids; improving access to addiction treatment and reducing the supply of illicit opioids; and strengthening the national plan to reduce prescription drug misuse.

“In addition to these, we would also like to see an increase in the availability of alternative therapies for the people with substance abuse disorders,” the report said.

Topics:drug-use,drugs-and-substance-abuse,drug-education,health,drugpolicy,health-policy,death,australiaFirst posted January 28, 2019 14:35:58More stories from Victoria

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