Australia: Heroin and opioid deaths on the rise

October 10, 2012

A total of 500 Australians aged 15 to 54 died from accidental opioid overdoses in 2008 and preliminary estimates suggest deaths of this nature will be higher again in 2009 and 2010, according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

The largest recorded increase was among Australians aged 45 to 54, with preliminary figures indicating deaths in that age group have increased by about 50 per cent since 2008.

Professor Michael Farrell, Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW, says while deaths from heroin and other opioids are nowhere near the levels of the late 1990s when there was an expansion in the heroin market, rates are climbing.

"Many related deaths are due to multiple drug toxicity, which increases the risk of fatal overdose and there needs to be continued awareness of the risks of multiple ," Professor Farrell says.

He says the Australian population is ageing and those people are increasingly likely to be prescribed opioids for pain.

"The risk of dependence needs to be well understood and promoted through health education activities," Professor Farrell says. This age group is most likely to be taking multiple ."

In 2008, the rate of accidental deaths in Australia due to opioids was 41.5 per million people compared with 30.4 per million in 2007.

Explore further: Deaths from strong prescription painkillers are on the increase

Related Stories

Opioids associated with highest risk of death

April 17, 2012

People with an opioid addiction had the highest risk of death when compared with rates for alcohol and other drugs, according to a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Recommended for you

Young adults found displaying symptoms of net addiction

October 17, 2014

In 2012, Allen Frances, MD, professor emeritus and former chair of the department of psychiatry at Duke University, cautioned that "Internet Addiction" could be the next new fad diagnosis, complete with "an exuberant trumpeting ...

Can 'love hormone' oxytocin protect against addiction?

March 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Adelaide say addictive behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "love hormone" system in our bodies during early ...

Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain

May 2, 2012

If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit? It's the idea behind a nicotine vaccine being created by MIT and Harvard researchers, in which an injection of synthetic nanoparticles prompts the immune ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.