Fatal opioid overdoses are on the rise, and most involve prescription drugs
The number of Australians dying from opioid overdoses has nearly doubled in the last decade, with the majority of deaths attributable to prescription drugs.
A recent National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre report found natural and semi-synthetic opioids (like morphine, codeine and oxycodone) accounted for most opioid-induced deaths in Australia since 2007, while deaths from synthetic opioids (like fentanyl and tramadol) had also increased. Fatal heroin overdoses have nearly tripled.
Of the 1,109 people who died of an opioid overdose in 2016, three quarters had taken prescription opioids; 45 per cent had mixed opioids with benzodiazepines (drugs prescribed for anxiety and insomnia); and 83 per cent of deaths were considered accidental.