Tackling the opioid crisis – a decade on
This report contains the findings of a report published in May 2018 by the Department of Health, which considered the response to the opioid crisis as the decade of the opioid addiction has ended.
The current opioid crisis may be one of the most serious the world has experienced. The effects are widespread, causing pain, suffering and death. In order to improve the health of people who depend on them, we need new ways of fighting this crisis.
Over the past decade, the number of fatal overdoses and the number of people who died from opioids has been increasing. More deaths than ever before have been linked to inappropriate prescribing of powerful opioids, and the number of overdoses is now more than double the number of fatalities involving heroin.
The consequences of the opioid crisis
In 2016, there were 22,937 deaths in Australia from drug overdoses, making it the country’s third deadliest-ranking drug crisis after domestic abuse and HIV/AIDS. In 2017, there were 8,721 deaths involving drug overdoses. In total, there were 26,945 deaths across Australia in 2017, which includes 8,721 deaths in excess of 10 years and 5,892 deaths in excess of 15 years.
The consequences of the current crisis have been far reaching.
In Australia alone, there have been more than 900,000 recorded opioid-related deaths between 2008 and 2018 – a staggering number because of the size and prevalence of this issue.
In fact, the number of opioid-related deaths in Australia has increased by more than 3,000 deaths per year between 2009 and 2018.
Of the total 8,721 deaths that were recorded with opioids in 2017, 957 (11.6%) involved deaths in the last month of life (i.e. the 1st October to 30th June). In the final month they live in, the risk of dying from an opioid overdose is more than five times greater than the risk of dying from cancer and more than seven times greater than the risk of dying from accident,