Australia-Annual-Overdose-Report-CoverInternational Overdose Awareness Day is a global event run by Penington Institute on 31 August each year. The Event aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death of permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Penington Institute releases Australia’s Annual Overdose Report – 2016

In the lead up to International Overdose Awareness Day 2016, Penington Institute has released ‘Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2016’.

This report details some key statistics relating to overdose deaths in Australia from 2004 to 2014. The report was compiled by Penington Institute based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The principal findings are:

  • Deaths due to accidental overdose grew substantially from 2004 to 2014. They reached 1,137 in 2014, a rapid rise from 705 deaths in 2004 and a 61 per cent increase in a decade. Between 2013 and 2014 overdose deaths smashed through the 1,000 deaths mark, with a rise of 14.5 per cent in one year alone, from 993 to 1,137.
  • Contrary to stereotypes about the age of people who die of accidental overdose, Australians aged 40-49 are the most likely to die of a drug overdose. Deaths in this age bracket have almost doubled from 174 deaths in 2004 to 342 in 2014 – a 96 per cent rise.
    • In 2014, people aged 30-59 accounted for 78 per cent of all overdose deaths.
  • Large increases in overdose deaths in rural and regional are driving the overall increase. Between 2008 and 2014, there was an increase from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 population to 5.7 per 100,000– an 83 per cent increase. Meanwhile, the rate per capita in metropolitan areas has moved only slightly from 4.2 per 100,000 in 2008 to 4.4 per 100,000 in 2014.
  • Despite common perceptions of accidental deaths due to drugs are caused by illicit drugs, in 2014 prescription medications were responsible for more drug-related deaths (69 per cent) than illicit drugs (31 per cent). (Note: this statistic is for total drug-related deaths, not just overdose deaths).
    • Over the period 2008-2014 there was an 87 per cent increase in prescription opioid deaths in Australia, with the greatest increase occurring in rural/regional Australia which saw a 148 per cent increase.
  • Accidental deaths due to drug overdose per capita for Aboriginal people has increased substantially between 2004 and 2014 with an increase of 141 per cent – from 3.9 per 100,000 in 2004 to 9.4 per 100,000 in 2014 in the five jurisdictions with Aboriginal data. In the same period, the increase among non-Aboriginal people was from 3.3 per 100,000 to 4.8 per 100,000 – an increase of 45 per cent.
  • Western Australia is the worst state for overdose deaths per capita with 5.8 per 100,000 in 2014 followed by NSW with 5.1 per 100,000.
    • Since 2004 Western Australia’s per capita overdose deaths have risen from the lowest to the highest in the country – an increase from 1.8 per 100,000 to 5.8 per 100,000 (a 222 per cent increase) – against a national increase over the same period of 37 per cent.

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