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Australia’s Annual Overdose Report shows Regional Australia at higher risk

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report – Released Today

VIDEO: Australia's Annual Overdose Report 2020, released on International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31st), reveals that more than 2,000 Australians have died of overdose for the fifth consecutive year.

The Report's Findings cover:

  • Over 70% of overdoses happen to men – males are three times more likely to die of an unintentional overdose than women

  • 75% of overdose deaths are accidental

  • Overdose rates in Australia are higher than the death toll on the roads.

· Overdose deaths cost our economy more than $13 billion every year. [1]

  • Penington Institute calls on the Commonwealth for a national prevention strategy

· The number of unintentional overdose deaths that involve four or more substances (polydrug use) has almost quadrupled

Download the full 2020 report, released today, August 31st 2020: https://www.penington.org.au/2020-overdose-report/

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2020, the nation’s most comprehensive source of data about overdose deaths, shows that 2,070 Australians died of overdose, an alarming trend driven by deaths involving opioids, stimulants and the use of multiple substances at the same time (known as polydrug use). Age remains a risk factor for overdose death, with over 40% of all unintentional overdose deaths in 2018 suffered by Australians aged 50 and over, while those in their 40s accounted for 27% of the total. Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2020 also shows that unintentional overdose deaths occur at higher rates in regional areas than in our capital cities. In 2018, there were 7.3 unintentional overdose deaths per 100,000 people in rural and regional Australia, compared with 5.8 per 100,000 in the capital cities. Principal findings of Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2020:

· There were 1,556 unintentional overdose deaths in Australia in 2018, accounting for more than three-quarters (75.2 per cent) of all overdose deaths.

· Opioids were the drug group most identified in unintentional overdose deaths in 2018 (involved in 900 deaths), followed by benzodiazepines (involved in 648 deaths) and stimulants (involved in 442 deaths).

· Unintentional overdose deaths were most common among the 40-49 age group, which accounted for 26.9 per cent of all unintentional overdose deaths in 2018. Fewer than one in ten (9.6 per cent) deaths recorded was among those aged under 30.

· Men were almost three times more likely than women to suffer an unintentional overdose death in 2018, accounting for 71.5 per cent of deaths.

· Aboriginal Australians were almost three times more likely to die from an unintentional overdose death in 2018 than a non-Aboriginal person, with a rate of deaths of 17.3 per 100,000 population, compared with 6.0 deaths per 100,000 population for non-Aboriginal people.

· Since 2011, the rate of unintentional overdose deaths in regional Australia has surpassed the rate seen in capital cities. From 2011 to 2018, the rate of unintentional overdose deaths in rural and regional Australia increased by 15.9 per cent, while the rate in capital cities increased by 3.6 per cent.

· The number of unintentional overdose deaths that involve four or more substances (polydrug use) has almost quadrupled from 163 in 2013 to 582 in 2018.

· There were 442 unintentional overdose deaths involving stimulants in 2018, up from 87 in 2008 – an increase of more than 400 per cent.

· While the overall number of unintentional overdose deaths involving anti-convulsants is low (128 deaths in 2018) the number has increased markedly since 2015, when there were only 11 deaths.

· Rates of unintentional overdose deaths involving anti-psychotics have increased markedly since 2013, (when there were 15 deaths involving anti-psychotics) to 223 such deaths in 2018, representing 14.3 per cent of all unintentional overdose deaths. *************************************** A month ago the Australia's Health 2020 report showed one in five Australians have a mental health condition The Australia's Health 2020 report released by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) confirms how widespread mental illness is in Australia.

“The mental health sector is an extremely important part of Australian society, and we want to hear about these unsung heroes so their contribution to mental health can be publicly recognised in the Australian Mental Health Prize,” said Ita Buttrose AC OBE, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group said.

The ‘Australia’s Health 2020’ report shows one in five Australians reported they had a mental or behavioural condition in 2017-18.

“We expect the impact of COVID-19 will see a further increase in these figures, so it is more important than ever to publicly acknowledge mental health and those that work in the sector through the Australian Mental Health Prize,” Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty from UNSW Medicine and Advisory Board member of the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare said.

One of the data sources for the report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) National Health Survey 2017-18, shows that NSW rates were similar to that of Australia: one in five people experienced mental and behavioural conditions. In NSW one in eight people had an anxiety-related condition and almost one in 10 people had depression or feelings of depression.

Ms Buttrose believes the findings reinforce the importance of removing the stigma associated with our mental health and recognising the great work that is being done by mental health experts and teams around Australia.

The ‘Australia’s Health 2020’ report is based on the most recent national statistics on mental health gathered by the federal government during the year leading up to June 2018.

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