DRUG overdose deaths in Australia have now exceeded the road toll, new figures released by Anex show.
According to figures prepared by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2011 road transport deaths were 1323, while 1383 people died of drug overdoses.
Anex CEO John Ryan said ABS data indicates this is the first time that drug overdoses have gone past the road toll since at least the mid-1990s.
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day.
"A decade ago, drug overdoses accounted for 0.7% of all deaths compared with road deaths which accounted for 1.3%. This trend has slowly reversed until 2011 when drug overdoses made up 1% of deaths, slightly more than the 0.9% accounted for by road transport deaths."
"Road toll success has come through concerted efforts involving multi-million dollar public education campaigns over many years," Mr Ryan said.
"Increasing overdose deaths are related to increased pharmaceutical drug misuse in particular."
"There needs to be a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of overdose risk and how to respond. Far too many people die or suffer brain damage because friends and loved ones did not recognise signs of overdose," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said one way of making a dent in overdose rates overall is by tackling opioid overdoses through widespread establishment of overdose prevention and education programs that include the opioid reversal drug, naloxone.
He called for bi-partisan political support toward leveraging the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the Medicare rebate system to put naloxone into the hands of the public, particularly in regional and rural areas where overdose response times are longer than in cities.
31st Aug 2013
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