Unintentional drug overdoses are killing a soaring number of people in the Dandenong region, according to new research figures.
Research body Penington Institute released the figures with its Australia’s Annual Overdose Report published on 27 August.
It found that 71 people died from overdoses from illicit and prescription drugs in the Dandenong region in a five-year period between 2013-17.
It was up by 31 per cent from the death toll in 2008-12.
The increase is less than the Greater Melbourne rise of 40 per cent and Frankston (77 per cent).
Penington Institute chief executive John Ryan said overdose deaths across Australia had reached “crisis” point. More than 1600 had died in 2017.
About 71 per cent of the deceased were aged between 30 and 59 years old.
“We must treat overdose deaths as preventable.
“We know what works in saving lives and reducing the harms from overdose deaths.
“We’re just not doing enough of it.”
Underpinning the rise is a significant increases in deaths involving ‘anti-depressants’ or benzodiazepines, pharmaceutical opioids, and illicit substances such as ‘ice’ and heroin.
There was also a rise in deaths involving four or more substances.
“When it comes to opioids, we’re careening down a similar paths as America.
“About seven years ago, their overdose deaths from prescription opioids began to stabilise as deaths due to illicit drugs like heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine skyrocketed.
“Reducing access to prescription drugs without addressing the underlying causes simply changes the types of drugs that are abused – with fatal consequences.”