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Trends in drug-induced deaths in Australia, 1997-2018

Jan 31, 2020

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) recently released a report “Trends in drug-induced deaths in Australia, 1997-2018” with information obtained via the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Overall, there were 1740 drug-induced deaths among Australians in 2018. This figure is very close to the peak number of deaths which Australia experienced in 1999 with 1740 deaths. 

The report found that in 2018, 70% of drug induced deaths were deemed accidental, with opioids being the main drug noted. The last decade saw a rise in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and tramadol, however the authors estimate there was no further rise in these numbers between 2017 and 2018. Heroin involvement in drug-induced deaths has risen over the last 2 years, and it is now the leading opioid responsible for opioid-induced deaths.

The report indicates there has been an increase in the rate of deaths involving other types of pharmaceutical medications such as benzodiazepines, antipsychotics and pain medications like pregabalin.

The reports suggests death due to amphetamine-type stimulants including methamphetamine and MDMA increased over the period of 2011 to 2016, however preliminary estimates do not show further increases in 2017 and 2018.

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