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Prescription medication misuse on the rise

Around one million Australians misused pharmaceuticals and medication over the last 12 months according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The report indicates the number of Australians using opioids and benzodiazepines for non-medical reasons is on the increase.

The report, released on December 19, 2017 focussed on two main types of prescription drugs. One was opioid analgesics, pain relief medications like codine and morphine.The other was Benzodiazepines, tranquillisers like diazepam, valium and xanax used in treating anxiety and sleeplessness.

With 23 per cent – or 2.5 million – of prescriptions dispensed in 2014–15 being for codeine, that means about 6.8 per cent of the population were using opioids.

In some instances that misuse had fatal consequences according to Institute spokesperson Matthew James

“Over the past decade, there has been a substantial rise in the number of deaths involving a prescription drug, with drug-induced deaths more likely to be due to prescription drugs than illegal drugs,’ he said.

According to the report, the number of people older than 14 to have misused these drugs in the last year was 4.8 per cent. Benzodiazepines were the most common single drug type identified among the 1,808 drug induced deaths, accounting for 663 deaths in 2016. That is an increase of 3.7 per cent since 2007.

The misuse was higher than all illegal drugs, with only the exception of cannabis.

People misusing these products are the ones more likely to experience mental illness, chronic pain and experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, according to the report.

NSW Pharmacy Guild president David Heffernan responded to the report findings in the Australian Journal of Pharmacy saying it highlights the need for vigilance and better exchange of information between health professionals and the need for better post-hospitalisation reconciliation of medicine use—where many addictions arise.

With these distressing statistic it seems that finding a better path to post-hospitalisation recovery is an important issue. Chronic pain management can be a difficult are in a person’s recovery and require a multifaceted therapeutic approach. At Retreat South we combine physical therapy with more traditional psychotherapy as well as tog and meditation to address physical recovery.

Contact us today to see how we can help with issues around medication dependancy, chronic pain and other mental health issues.

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