Increase in heroin deaths a preventable tragedy, says cohealth

Released on 10th February 2023

Victorian community health service, cohealth, says that the latest State Coroner’s report on drug overdose deaths points to the need for a second supervised injecting service, and is evidence that the pandemic has not reduced drug use in Victoria.  

The Coroner’s report showed a rise in heroin overdose deaths in Q1 and Q2 2022, with more than 60 people losing their lives each quarter, compared to the average of 42 heroin deaths per quarter in the previous 18 months. 

The report showed that heroin was the second most prevalent contributing drug (after diazepam) contributing to 37 per cent of the 1031 overdose fatalities in the period July 2020 – June 2022. 

cohealth says that it’s City Street Health outreach team, which operates in the Melbourne CBD 7 days/week, has responded to an increased number of overdoses in recent months as more people return to the city.  

cohealth has a long history of supporting people overcoming disadvantage, including people who are drug dependent. cohealth operates a range of alcohol and drug services across metro Melbourne, including outreach services, pharmacotherapy programs, distribution of overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, counselling and addiction specialists. 

Quotes to be attributed to cohealth Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz: 

“The tragedy is that these deaths are preventable.  

“Left behind are parents, children, sisters and brothers who are grieving unnecessarily. We know that supervised injecting services save lives and connect people to support and treatment, so let’s get on with the job of opening the next one. 

“What the coroner’s data tells us is that despite the pandemic people are still using drugs and dying from preventable overdoses. When we see increases in people dying from entirely preventable causes, we expect our governments to respond, and drug overdoses should be no different.” 

“Our CBD street outreach team has responded to more overdoses in recent months as people return to the city, a trend that shows no sign of reversing.” 

“We are heartbroken about the number of lives that continue to be lost from drug overdoses, especially because we know that if a supervised injecting service was available, those people would still be alive.” 


— Ends — 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth 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.  


More information: or 0499 101 638

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