Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Heroin - part III

We don't hear much about heroin overdoses and deaths these days - they rarely seem to interest the media anymore unless they relate to a celebrity. However, back in 1999, it was a different story. Heroin use had exploded, as had the number of overdoses and deaths.

The Australian National Council on Drugs reported that:

The number of deaths associated with heroin overdose has increased markedly in the past 25 years. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre publications record that the number of deaths in the 15-44 year old age group has increased from 6 people in 1964 to 737 people in 1998. Recent reports further suggest that this figure has again increased in 1999. The 1998 figure equates with almost 9% of all deaths in this age group being attributed to heroin related overdose.

Some studies estimate that up to 60% of all heroin users have experienced at least one overdose. Each heroin related overdose potentially represents another fatality
That's quite an increase - from 6 deaths in 1964 to 737 in 1998. It's worth noting that:

The highest rate of fatal overdose occurs in New South Wales. In 1998, overdose fatalities in NSW accounted for 48.6% of all fatal overdoses nationally.
That's why we ended up with a Drug Summit - heroin was killing a lot of people back then. One of the outcomes of the Summit was a safe injecting room in Kings Cross. The question is - did the safe injecting room make a difference? Did it materially reduce the number of deaths from heroin overdoses once it opened?

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