Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2018

Overdose deaths rise again: Penington Institute

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2018 reveals that accidental overdose continues to be a significant cause of death in Australia.

The continued growth in overdose deaths is linked to highly potent drugs, many of which are available through prescription, such as pharmaceutical opioids and benzodiazepines. Illegal drugs such as heroin and crystal methamphetamine (‘ice’) also contribute to a significant number of fatalities.

The use of multiple drugs concurrently (including alcohol) is common and increases the risk of overdose.

The principal findings of the report:

In 2016, there were a total of 2,177 drug-related deaths in Australia, a significant increase from 15 years prior (1,231 in 2002).

Of the 2,177 drug-related deaths in 2016, the majority (1,704) were accidental. Fifteen years ago in 2002, the number of accidental drug-related deaths was 903.

There continues to be a marked increase in the rate of overdose death in regional Australia. In 2016, the per capita rate for regional Australia had increased to 8.1 per 100,000 compared to a rate of 6.6 in metropolitan areas.

Middle-aged Australians are more likely to die from an accidental overdose compared to younger or older age groups. Almost 70 per cent of all overdose deaths occurred within the 30-59 age bracket.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in deaths across all drug types. In 2016, across five jurisdictions (NSW, Qld, SA, WA and NT), the accidental death rate per 100,000 Aboriginal people was 20.7 compared to 6.4 for non-Indigenous Australians.

While double the number of men died of accidental overdose than women, the rate of overdose death among women is growing at a faster rate than men overall.

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