Trends in alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances in Victoria: 2011-12

Drugs and alcohol Alcohol Australia Victoria

This report examines non-fatal heroin overdoses in Victoria in depth using Ambulance Victoria records.  

Experts are frustrated that messages about the dangers of crystal methamphetamine use are still not getting through, with a massive increase in the number of ice-related ambulance call outs during 2011-12.  Research found rates of attendances in regional Victoria were higher for cannabis, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioid analgesics and other analgesics when compared with metropolitan Melbourne. However, the report shows a substantial increase in crystal methamphetamine-related ambulance attendances in metropolitan Melbourne. There were 592 crystal methamphetamine (ice) call-outs in metropolitan Melbourne during 2011-2012, compared to 282 in 2010-2011, a 109.9 per cent increase. The most recent figures continue a worrying trend for ice call-outs, with only 136 cases recorded in 2009-2010.

Alcohol continues to top the list of most drug-related call outs with 8824 incidents in 2011-2012 in metropolitan Melbourne, an increase of 27% compared to 2010-2011. More encouraging was a decrease in ambulance attendances in metropolitan Melbourne for some drugs of concern, including benzodiazepines (2694 in 2011-2012, down 14%), antidepressants (1060, down 12.8%), antipsychotics (964, down 8.5%) and anticonvulsants (197, down 9.6%).

This report is part of an ongoing project which commenced in 1998, Ambo Project: Alcohol and Drug Related Ambulance Attendances, undertaken by Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre's Population Health Research Program in collaboration with Ambulance Victoria and was funded by the Victorian Department of Health.

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