Drug deaths hit 20-year high

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the country’s leading causes of death and while the top cause remains the same, there’s another that’s creeping up the charts.

While more people die from heart disease than any other cause, drug-induced deaths are at their highest rate since the late 1990s.

“There were 1808 drug induced deaths in 2016, with those deaths most commonly associated with benzodiazepines and oxycodone,” said James Eynstone-Hinkins, Director of Health and Vital Statistics at the ABS.

“These are both prescription drugs used to manage anxiety and pain respectively.”

Death rates from illicit drugs such as psychostimulants, including methamphetamines and ‘ice’, have quadrupled since 1999, making them the third most common fatal substance. Heroin is the fourth most common.

The rate of death caused by heart disease is declining, as are stroke deaths. However, deaths caused by conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s are on the rise.

“In 2016, dementia became the leading cause of death among Australian women,” said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins.

“Improvements in treatments and prevention of heart disease have contributed to increased life expectancy, but this has also led to increased deaths from conditions such as dementia, which affect predominantly very elderly Australians.”

Were you aware that drug-induced fatalities were so prevalent in our society? Why do you think that may be?

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