Sharp rise in unintentional overdoses recorded in western Victoria

The rate of unintentional overdose deaths has increased throughout much of western Victoria, with the Grampians having a particularly large rise. Tuesday August 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day, with Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2021, produced by the Penington Institute, released on the day and showing some concerning numbers. Since 2005 data surrounding unintentional overdose deaths has been collected around Australia, with Statistical Area 3 of usual residence used to separate the numbers. In 2005-2009 and in 2010-2014, the Grampians SA3 area recorded 19 deaths each, but between 2015-2019 there was 34 deaths in the region. Overall across Australia there was 5,428 unintentional overdose deaths recorded in 2005-2009, 6,670 in 2010-2014 and 8,539 between 2015-2019. Since the turn of the century, 34,728 Australians have died of a preventable drug overdose, with Penington Institute chief executive John Ryan urging more to be done. “Overdose carries a stigma that at a community level is hard to overcome, but by ignoring it, overdose deaths continue to surge,” he said. READ MORE: “This needs to stop now. We need to stop trying to police our way out of drug overdose, and instead tackle it as the health crisis that it is. “If it were anything else taking so many of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters away from us, we’d be moving heaven and earth to solve this problem. “Australia had a National Heroin Overdose Strategy twenty years ago. Almost all the recommendations could still be implemented. “While it’s gathered dust, almost 35,000 Australians have died of preventable overdoses, many including pharmaceutical drugs, not just heroin. “With every day that passes without a commitment to a National Overdose Prevention Strategy, we are letting Australians die of entirely preventable causes. It’s not okay. And it needs to change today.” OTHER NEWS: There was also a rise in the Ballarat region over this time period, with 29 deaths recorded in 2005-2009, 21 deaths recorded in 2010-2014, but a rise to 41 deaths between 2015-2019. Finally, in the Maryborough-Pyrenees area there was eight unintentional overdose deaths in 2005-2009 and in 2010-2014, but this number rose to 11 in 2015-2019. Across the nation 2,227 Australians died of overdose in 2019, with three-quarters (1,644) of which unintentional. Overdose deaths have also increased by 25 per cent in a decade (from 2009 to 2019). The report also found that for Australians aged in their 30s, overdose was the second most common cause of death in 2019 behind only suicide, while for Australians in their 20s, overdose was the third-leading cause of death behind suicide and land transport accidents. From an economic point of view, the report also found overdose deaths cost the Australian economy approximately $15.5 billion a year. If you can see this message, you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Stawell Times-News, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and for allowing us to continue telling Stawell’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great town.

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The rate of unintentional overdose deaths has increased throughout much of western Victoria, with the Grampians having a particularly large rise.

Tuesday August 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day, with Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2021, produced by the Penington Institute, released on the day and showing some concerning numbers.

Since 2005 data surrounding unintentional overdose deaths has been collected around Australia, with Statistical Area 3 of usual residence used to separate the numbers.

In 2005-2009 and in 2010-2014, the Grampians SA3 area recorded 19 deaths each, but between 2015-2019 there was 34 deaths in the region.

Overall across Australia there was 5,428 unintentional overdose deaths recorded in 2005-2009, 6,670 in 2010-2014 and 8,539 between 2015-2019.

Since the turn of the century, 34,728 Australians have died of a preventable drug overdose, with Penington Institute chief executive John Ryan urging more to be done.

“Overdose carries a stigma that at a community level is hard to overcome, but by ignoring it, overdose deaths continue to surge,” he said.

“This needs to stop now. We need to stop trying to police our way out of drug overdose, and instead tackle it as the health crisis that it is.

“If it were anything else taking so many of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters away from us, we’d be moving heaven and earth to solve this problem.

“Australia had a National Heroin Overdose Strategy twenty years ago. Almost all the recommendations could still be implemented.

“While it’s gathered dust, almost 35,000 Australians have died of preventable overdoses, many including pharmaceutical drugs, not just heroin.

“With every day that passes without a commitment to a National Overdose Prevention Strategy, we are letting Australians die of entirely preventable causes. It’s not okay. And it needs to change today.”

There was also a rise in the Ballarat region over this time period, with 29 deaths recorded in 2005-2009, 21 deaths recorded in 2010-2014, but a rise to 41 deaths between 2015-2019.

Finally, in the Maryborough-Pyrenees area there was eight unintentional overdose deaths in 2005-2009 and in 2010-2014, but this number rose to 11 in 2015-2019.

Across the nation 2,227 Australians died of overdose in 2019, with three-quarters (1,644) of which unintentional.

Overdose deaths have also increased by 25 per cent in a decade (from 2009 to 2019).

The report also found that for Australians aged in their 30s, overdose was the second most common cause of death in 2019 behind only suicide, while for Australians in their 20s, overdose was the third-leading cause of death behind suicide and land transport accidents.

From an economic point of view, the report also found overdose deaths cost the Australian economy approximately $15.5 billion a year.

If you can see this message, you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Stawell Times-News, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and for allowing us to continue telling Stawell’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great town.

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