Brimbank drug deaths alarm

By Tate Papworth

The number of drug-related deaths in Brimbank is rising.

Not-for-profit organisation Penington Institute has released its annual overdose report for 2018, which showed a spike in deaths in Brimbank.

In total, 69 people died of a drug-related death in the Brimbank area from 2012 to 2016, compared to 43 deaths from 2002 to 2006.

Penington Institute chief executive John Ryan said that the death toll was alarming.

“The number of drug-related deaths in this area is trending upwards and that should act as a strong wake-up call,” he said.

“From 2001 to 2016, the drug type claiming the most lives in the area is unsurprisingly opioids such as codeine, heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl.”

The report reveals that there has been an 87 per cent increase in prescription opioid deaths from 2008 to 2014 in Australia.

It also states nationwide, prescriptions for opioids have jumped from 10 million a year in 2009 to 14 million.

Mr Ryan said drug-related deaths are often accidental.

“The drug fentanyl is enormous cause for alarm. It is a synthetic opioid, up to 100 times more powerful than pure morphine and it is a key and growing part of Australia’s overdose crisis,” he said.

“It is claiming more lives than ever before. The number of accidental deaths involving fentanyl, pethidine and tramadol jumped nine times from 2001 to 2016.”

Mr Ryan said the federal government needs to change the way it deals with the problem.

“Spending priorities are wrong in Australia – 65 per cent of government investment tackling illicit drugs is spent on law enforcement to reduce supply,” he said.

“Just 22 per cent is spent on treatment, 9.5 per cent on prevention and 2.2 per cent on harm reduction.”