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Record 142 people die every month in accidental drug overdoses, new report warns

A record 142 people die every month in accidental drug overdoses, as Australians underestimate the danger of sleeping pills, a new report warns.

As reported in The Age today, annual drug deaths almost doubled in the decade to 2016, a period that claimed more than 13,000 lives through unintentional overdose.

Deputy CEO of the Pennington Institute, Stephen McNally told Ross and John the problem really arises from mixing drugs.

“There were nearly five million prescriptions dispensed in the 2014/15 period,” Stephen said.

“The real problem here is they’re taken in combination with other drugs, with prescription opioids and alcohol.

“Nearly all of them, 96 per cent of deaths involved another drug.

“You want the sleeping tablet but you’ve also got a bit of pain, so you’re on some prescription opioid to deal with that, and then you have a drink of wine, so those three things together can have a fatal impact.

“What we have found in this report is that it is the sleeping tablets, anxiety tablets, the opioids, heroin, amphetamine, methamphetamine, ice and cannabinoids, they’re all on the increase and it’s affecting middle aged people too.”

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“I reckon there are two sorts of people in the world, those who take sleeping tablets and those who don’t,” Ross said.

“I’m frightened of them, I’d be afraid you’d become reliant on them and then it’s a slippery slope.”