Drug overdoes rise in Whittlesea

Alesha Capone and Tara Murray

The number of drug overdoses recorded in the Whittlesea- Wallan area rose by 28 per cent over four years, according to a new report.

The Penington Institute’s Annual Overdose Report reveals that between 2014 and 2018, 41 people died from a drug overdose in Whittlesea-Wallan.

In comparison, 32 people died from overdoses in the area between 2009 and 2013.

In the Sunbury region, overdose-related deaths stayed steady at nine deaths.

Tullamarine and Broadmeadows were classified as one area, with drug-related deaths dropping from 27 between 2009 and 2013 to 25 between 2014-2018.

Geelong recorded the highest number of overdose deaths in the state, with 82 recorded between 2014 and 2018.

The Penington Institute’s chief executive John Ryan said drug overdoses were “a hidden health crisis” in Australia.

The institute is calling on the federal government to commit to a National Overdose Prevention Strategy; to expand the Take Home Naloxone pilot to every state; and to roll out real-time prescription monitoring.

Werribee Mercy Hospital dual diagnosis nurse (alcohol or other drugs/mental health) Lithiya Jose said that drug and alcohol addiction “will almost certainly create significantly challenging and stressful times for those impacted as well as the members of their families”.

Ms Jose said that for friends and families of someone struggling with addiction, empathy was important.

“Being able to relate to the patient and to identify with and understand their feelings and challenges is paramount,” she said.

Ms Jose said that recovering from addiction could be a long journey for patients.

“However, we aspire to develop a treatment plan which focuses on their personal goals,” she said.

“For instance, we aim to build self-confidence. Starting with small steps while working toward a larger goal, abstinence or safe use may be most reasonable and achievable for many patients.”

For assistance, contact the state’s 24/7 alcohol and drug counselling and referral service DirectLine on 1800 888 236, or The Family Drug Support Australia Support Line: 1300 368 186.