The Australian Bureau of Statistics has just released its 2016 Causes of Death report.
And Drug Free Ambassadors’ Victorian co-ordinator Jason Toth said the most alarming point for him was the 1808 lives lost due to drugs — a 20-year high.
Mr Toth said the term drug overdoses always brings with it the image of an addict shooting heroin or ice into their veins with a needle.
He said this might have been accurate in 1999 but fast forward to 2016 and nothing could be more different.
‘‘Those losing their lives are more likely to be a middle-aged male, living outside a capital city, in towns such as Seymour, Benalla, Shepparton, misusing prescription drugs, with an accidental death,’’ Mr Toth said.
‘‘This tells me we need comprehensive drug education at all levels, not just with our kids,’’ he said.
‘‘Drugs and their effects need to be talked about at schools, in the home and in the workplace.
‘‘In the workplace, we pick up all the adults who were not given any decent drug education at school.
‘‘With so many prescription drugs on the market we must educate people on their effects and highly addictive nature.
‘‘Everyone knows about heroin, LSD and marijuana but what about ‘legal’ prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines and highly addictive painkillers such as Oxycodone, codeine and Endone that doctors prescribe after accidents, operations and even sporting injuries?
‘‘These drugs can turn the average trusting person into an unwitting drug addict, locked in a vicious spiral of pain.’’
Mr Toth said we hear a lot about ice — and deaths from this drug have quadrupled since 1999. But he said the growing killer is prescription drugs and painkillers.
‘‘The Drug Free Ambassadors Australia educates on a wide spectrum of drugs and we want to let everyone know that we have excellent tools that can be used by anyone to educate their families and loved ones,’’ he said.