Australia’s Annual Overdose Report by Penington Institute
Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2020, released on international overdose awareness day, shows that 2,070 Australians died of overdose, an alarming trend driven by deaths involving opioids, stimulants and the use of multiple substances at the same time (known as polydrug use).
Mr John Ryan, the CEO of Penington Institute says, “Overdose is our hidden health crisis – and it’s a crisis that is costing us billions. And what’s worse is these deaths are preventable. We simply can’t accept that 2,000 of our sons and daughters, mums and dads, and brothers and sisters die every year from a drug overdose.”
The report finds that Over 400 more Australians die of unintentional overdoses than on the roads every year – and the gap is widening. Concerted campaigning, investment in evidence-based policies and community education has done a great job of bringing down the road toll.
Penington Institute is calling on the Commonwealth to bring down the overdose toll by committing to the following policies:
Firstly, it must commit to a National Overdose Prevention Strategy. This strategy must leave no stone unturned. It should examine the drivers of overdose risk, access to proven interventions, and the adequacy of our existing efforts.”
Secondly, it must – as a priority – expand the current pilot of Take Home Naloxone from New South Wales, SA and WA to every state and territory. Naloxone is a safe, proven intervention that saves countless lives.
Thirdly, the Penington Insititute is calling on the Commonwealth to be realistic about the planned roll-out of national real-time prescription monitoring. A deep-rooted social, health and legal problem can’t be fixed with technology alone. Real-time prescription monitoring carries real risks of locking people out of receiving the care they need and diverting them to unsafe illicit drugs. Stopping access to pharmaceutical drugs without proper treatment will result in more deaths.
“We want Australia’s Annual Overdose Report to encourage Australians from all walks of life to talk more about overdose and drug issues. That’s vital if we’re to bring this hidden crisis out of the shadows. The rich, middle and poor are all impacted by overdose. City and country too. It is not someone else’s problem. It is an Australian problem that we must collectively face up to,” says Mr Ryan.
The Annual Overdose Report can be accessed online here.