Prescription drug dependence

Substance abuse in Australia is changing. No longer are drug addicts just hooked on illicit substances, struggling financially and socially. Research published in the Australian Prescriber shows that a section of the population is becoming hooked on over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

These people do not necessarily fit the drug user stereotype. The report shows they may be more highly functioning, have higher socioeconomic status and better education than the average drug user in previous decades. They may, the study found, simply be lonely, or have a history of depression or mental illness, and be using the drugs to feel better in their day-to-day lives.

In the late 1990s, heroin was the main cause of hospitalisation due to overdose on opioid drugs. By 2008, prescription opioids accounted for 80 per cent of those admissions. In Victoria, the number of deaths caused by drug overdose involving prescription drugs now exceeds the road trauma death toll.

You can read the full article at the Australian Prescriber website.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may not be using over-the-counter or prescription drugs as intended, you can seek advice directly from your local pharmacist or GP. Or it may be easier to simply call your state or territory drug and alcohol counselling service, many of which operate 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

State/Territory alcohol and drugs telephone counselling and referral services

DirectLine: 1800 888 236

New South Wales
Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
Sydney: 02 9361 8000
Regional NSW: 1800 422 599

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
1800 177 833

Western Australia
Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
Perth: 08 9442 5000
Regional WA: 1800 198 024

South Australia
Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
1300 131 340

Australian Capital Territory
ACT Health Services: Alcohol & Other Drugs
02 6207 9977

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
1800 811 994

Northern Territory
Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
1800 131 350