Penington Institute welcomes the Australian Government’s important investment in drug and alcohol treatment and support services in the 2022-23 Federal Budget, including the roll-out of a national Take Home Naloxone (THN) Program.

Penington Institute CEO, John Ryan congratulated the Australian Government on this investment, highlighting the national and global health emergency presented by overdose.

“Unintentional death from overdose in Australia continues to outnumber the road toll and should be prioritised as the national health crisis that it is,” said Mr Ryan.

“Overdose affects Australians of all ages, from all places. Many believe illicit drugs are the main substances implicated in overdose, however pharmaceutical drugs – opioids, benzodiazepines (sedative drugs), anti-depressants and anti-convulsants – are detected in most overdose deaths.”

Under the Take Home Naloxone (THN) Pilot, which commenced in December 2019, naloxone is available free of charge and without prescription to people who may experience or witness an opioid overdose. By temporarily reversing the effects of overdose, naloxone is estimated to have saved up to three lives per day since the commencement of the pilot, according to an evaluation by the University of Queensland.

“The 2021 Australia’s Annual Overdose Report revealed drug-induced deaths as the second-leading cause of death for those aged 30 to 39, second only to suicide. For those 20 to 29 and 40 to 49, drug-induced deaths were the third-leading cause. Many of these deaths could have been avoided had the victim or bystanders had naloxone with them,” said Mr Ryan.

“We commend the Australian Government for prioritising this national health crisis by committing to ongoing funding of the Take Home Naloxone Program, including its expansion to every Australian state and territory. This is the logical next step following the proven success of the pilot program.

“It is also positive to see the extension of projects under the National Ice Action Strategy, continuation of initiatives preventing and treating blood borne viruses, and new investment in training for mental health workers who support people with both substance use and mental health conditions.

“We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Australian Government to help communities and frontline services reduce harm to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. These commitments in the 2022-23 Federal Budget are a welcome shift in the national approach to harm reduction.”