Drug-related deaths across the Central West

NEW REPORT: There were 155 drug-related deaths across the Central West in a five-year period. Photo: FILE
NEW REPORT: There were 155 drug-related deaths across the Central West in a five-year period. Photo: FILE

IN just five years 155 people died from a drug-related death in Western NSW, new data shows.

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report has warned that Australia is on track to experience a United States-style drug overdose crisis with 2177 lives lost in NSW to drug overdose during 2016.

The report conducted by the Penington Institute also revealed that 3232 people died from a drug-related death across the state from 2012-16, this had jumped significantly from the 2097 deaths that occurred from 2002 to 2006.

Penington Institute chief executive officer John Ryan said the Western NSW figures were alarming.

“We are seeing a surge of drug overdose deaths and this is concerning,” he said.

“An increase of 1135 deaths in the years spanning 2012 to 2016 compared to 2002 to 2006 should act as a strong wake-up call.

We are seeing a surge of drug overdose deaths and this is concerning.

Penington Institute chief executive officer John Ryan

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

Mr Ryan said the lethal pharmaceutical opioids fentanyl (which can be up to 100 times more powerful than pure morphine), pethidine and tramadol are claiming huge numbers of lives.

NSW, along with Queensland, accounts for more than half the total number of deaths caused by these drugs in Australia.

Mr Ryan said regional areas were “wearing the worst of it” with the latest figures from 2016 revealing that in regional NSW there were 1.3 deaths per 100,000 people from these drugs compared to 0.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Greater Sydney.

The report revealed sleeping tablets/anxiety tablets, known as Benzos, had become a hidden epidemic killing large number of Australians each year.

The number of deaths involving Benzos has doubled in just a decade – from 200 a year during 2001-07 to around 650 in 2016.

The number of deaths involving Benzos has doubled in just a decade – from 200 a year during 2001-07 to around 650 in 2016.

Mr Ryan said they had become a silent killer and the deadliness of Benzodiazepines was clearly being grossly underestimated.

The report showed that deaths involving amphetamines, including crystal methamphetamine or ice, have grown considerably in the past five years.

Amphetamines now surpass alcohol as the third most common substance detected in accidental drug related deaths.

For the period 2012 to 2016, there were 1237 deaths compared to 298 for the period 2002 to 2006.

Mr Ryan said most overdoses involve a number of drugs.

The report also revealed middle-aged Australians are the people far more likely to die of an accidental drug overdose in this country.

In 2016, 68 per cent of all accidental drug deaths were people aged 30 to 59.

The people most likely to die of an accidental drug overdose are aged 40 to 49.

A growing number of women are now dying from an accidental drug overdoses.

Mr Ryan said Australians were now misusing/abusing prescription pain killers and opioids like Fentanyl unlike any previous time in history.