Drug overdose deaths unnecessary and preventable

Released on 30th July 2021

cohealth says a new report released by the Victorian Coroner’s Court revealing more than 4,500 people have died by overdose in the past decade is a tragic reminder that drug stigma is still preventing people from seeking support. 

“Too many people are still dying from drugs because of the stigma attached to drug use. This stigma prevents people from seeking help for fear of judgement and discrimination,” said Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth. 

“Behind every one of those numbers is someone’s son or daughter. The sad reality is that each one of those people could still be with us if they had access to the right services, and supports.” 

“It is critical for us as a community to recognise that addiction is a health issue that needs a health response,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.  

“At cohealth we support people who use drugs with wraparound health and social supports, including GPs, nurses and social workers.  

“We treat each client as a person first, rather than seeing their drug use in isolation,” 

“For clients who are ready to be connected with pathways out of addiction, we can help them with pharmacotherapy treatment. For those who are still in active addiction, our focus is on reducing the harms associated with their drug use through needle syringe programs and naloxone,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

The Coroner’s report shows there was a 12% decrease (from 212 to 187) in Victorian heroin-involved overdose deaths between 2019 and 2020.  

“The 12 per cent decline in overdose deaths in is encouraging, and shows that the work of Victorian harm reduction programs are working.  

“Making clean injecting equipment available to people who need it and providing access to overdose-reversal drug naloxone are both critical ways we can reduce overdose deaths, and prevent the transmission of blood-borne disease. 

“The Coroner’s report is a timely reminder that there is still much work to be done to educate the community about the role we all have to play in reducing the harms associated with drugs.” 

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More information: email media@cohealth.org.au or call 0499 101 638

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services. 

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