Three people die and 150 are hospitalised every day from using opioids in Australia, new research has revealed.
A staggering 3.1 million Australians had a prescription for opioids, while about 715,000 used painkillers for non-medical purposes between 2016 and 2017.
About 40,000 Australians used heroin in the same period, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include illegal substances such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as legal pain relief available via prescription, such as codeine and morphine.
New research has highlighted Australia’s growing drug crisis with the shocking statistic that three people die from opioid use every single day
The number of deaths due to opioid use peaked at 1,245 in 1999, before sharply dropping to 439 in 2006.
Since then, numbers have gradually crept up.
The number of opioid-related deaths has more than doubled in the 10 years to 2016-2017, with numbers hitting 1,119.
The number of deaths due to opioid use peaked at 1,245 in 1999 before sharply dropping to 439 in 2006, but since then the numbers have steadily been creeping up
The vast majority of the deaths in 2016 – 83 per cent – were accidental rather than suicidal.
‘Of the 158,504 deaths from all causes in 2016, opioid deaths accounted for 0.7 per cent,’ the report states.
‘People who died from opioids were much younger—the median age at death for opioid deaths was 38 compared with 81 years for all deaths.’
The report also showed that legally prescribed opioids – oxycodone, codeine and morphine – were the cause of far more deaths than heroin.
In 2016, the vast majority of these deaths – 83 per cent – were accidental rather than suicidal
It concluded that ‘opioid use and its associated harms is an issue of great public health interest, both within Australia and internationally.’
It added that ‘several initiatives are already in place or under development to reduce opioid harm in Australia, involving both government and non-government organisations’.
The report ‘Opioid harm in Australia’ also looked at and compared the same data in Canada, and was compiled by members of the Population Health Unit of the AIHW and the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
Between 2016 and 2017, 3.1 million Australians were had prescriptions for opioids, around 715,000 used painkillers for non-medical purposes, and 40,000 used heroin