What is a Drug Induced Death?
A drug induced death is any death for which drugs are the underlying cause. This include those deaths attributed to overdose and those from medical conditions that were a result of chronic drug use. Drug induced deaths can be tied to over the counter, prescription, or illegal drugs, but alcohol is not included.
Since 2011, in Australia there has been a significant increase in the rate of drug-induced deaths. In 2016, this reached an all time high at 1,808 deaths. Of the over 1800 deaths, the majority, 71 percent were caused by unintentional overdose. This was followed by 23 percent of suicide related overdoses and 6 percent of deaths due to chronic complications of drug use of undetermined intent. The drug induced deaths were mainly associated with non-medical use of benzos and oxycodone. These are both prescription drugs. But both are highly addictive. Another area of increase is that of meth and crystal meth that has quadrupled in the number of deaths since 1999. While other countries have similar problems, this article will focus on Australia as it reviews the most common drug types and why they are such high risk for death.
Benzodiazepines, more commonly referred to as only benzos, are depressant drugs. This means they slow down the central nervous system’s activity by slowing the messages travelling between the body and brain. They do not make a person feel depressed most of the time. They simply slow the system down. Somewhat like alcohol or cannabis would when used. Benzos are minor tranquilizers. They are often prescribed to help with sleep issues like insomnia or to treat anxiety. Benzos are known for their addictive properties which are leaving medical professionals concerned about the risks so benzos are not often given long term.
There are three basic types of benzos. Those that are short, intermediate, or long acting. Some of the more familiar benzos include Valium, Serepax, Alodorm, Normison, and Xanax. All of which have brand and generic names with the same effects. Though benzos come in pill form, some people do choose to crush and snort or inject these drugs. Even when prescribed, benzos can be dangerous and cause the following:
- Impaired thinking or memory loss
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Slurred or stuttering speech
- Impaired coordination
- Double vision and much more.
If benzos are injected the user is at higher risk for vein damage, scarring, and infectious diseases like Hep B or C, HIV and AIDS. Overdose is possible and death can be caused by overdose or related diseases.
Drug addiction is a major issue in Australia which includes addictions to prescription drugs, particularly opioids. As of 2017, it was found that Australian doctors were cumulatively writing 14 million opioid prescriptions. Opioids are painkillers with highly addictive properties. Just because a medication is prescribed does not necessarily mean it is safe for use. However, with opioids the biggest danger is in using the drug long term. One in ten people prescribed opioids become addicted. Even when this was never the intent. Number wise, this means that approximately 1.4 million people throughout Australia could have an addiction that started as a legitimate prescription for pain relief.
People often underestimate the dangers of prescription drugs. Believing that if a doctor prescribes it, it must be safe for use. This is simply not true. The effects of opioids long term use include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal distention
- Liver damage
- Brain damage
- Tolerance and dependence
When opioid use is stopped abruptly, especially after long term use, withdrawal symptoms may occur an require medical intervention in many cases.
Methamphetamines and Crystal Meth
When compared to the use of other drugs methamphetamine and crystal meth use is low in Australia. However, the effects can still be extreme and extensive as those who do report use are reporting higher and more regular rates of use. This is more highly concentrated in rural and remote areas than major cities. Though use is reported throughout Australia. Methamphetamines can be taken in pill forms, though crystal meth can be injected and smoked as well. Side effects of meth use which can be long term include:
- Mental health issues
- Tooth loss/ dental issues (meth mouth)
- Poor Hygiene
- Body odor
- Poor physical health, among others.
Adequate Care Failures
Part of the problem with drug related deaths is that many places fail to provide adequate drug treatment and health services for those who have a problem or are developing a problem. Only about a sixth of people who have a drug issue ever receive treatment. Without treatment many people will suffer endlessly and may eventually succumb to a drug related death. Unfortunately many of these deaths could be prevented if adequate treatment was offered and accessible.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug addiction or dependence to any type of drug or substance, DARA can help. DARA offers affordable in-patient facilities in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland for Australia based residents to receive local, yet high level care. It’s not a typical rehabilitation facility as it is based in a former luxury resort style setting with beautiful views and many amenities that will help you relax, unwind, and get started on the path to recovery.
DARA provides personal trainers and nutritious meals created by top chefs to help the body heal and repair itself as the drugs leave your system. This is important as many drug addicts fail to care for themselves while using. Many lose or gain weight, provide poor self-hygiene, and ignore medical conditions out of fear of a doctor finding out about the addiction. Additional services include group and individual therapy as well as education about addiction in general. Being knowledgeable about addiction can better help a person understand what is happening in their mind and body to allow the addiction to continue.
When you or your loved one is ready to receive the help you so richly deserve, give DARA a call or discuss options online through the website. Your life can get better, if you are willing to seek help.
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