Saving Lives And Remembering Those Lost To Overdose

31 August 2019

The life-saving drug Naloxone and the vital training needed to use it will be more readily available to help those experiencing an overdose, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government.

Marking International Overdose Awareness Day, Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley today announced $2.2 million in funding to strengthen essential harm reduction services by increasing access to naloxone and Needle Syringe Programs (NSPs) across Victoria.

Over the next two years extra Naloxone will be distributed through the Labor Government’s Naloxone Subsidy Initiative, which gives Victorians access to the life-saving drug at no cost and will see it distributed to 21 agencies through 28 needle and syringe programs across Victoria.

Naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of overdose for opioid drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl. It is safe to use, has no side effects and can now be delivered by nasal spray.

The funding is also increasing NSP access across the state, where Victorians can collect sterile injecting equipment and prevent the transmission of blood borne viruses including hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

This complements the work being done at the medically supervised injecting room trial in North Richmond, which has safely treated more than 1,230 overdoses in its first year of operation.

International Overdose Awareness Day is organised by Victoria’s lead alcohol and other drug research and policy body, Penington Institute, and aims to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around drug-related deaths. It also acknowledges the families and friends who have tragically lost loved ones as a result of overdose.

Coroner’s data reveals there were 523 overdose deaths in Victoria in 2017 - more than double the road toll that same year.

To mark the day and the memory of Victorians lost to an overdose, monuments across Melbourne including the Arts Centre spire, AAMI Park and the Royal Exhibition Building will be lit up in purple.

The Labor Government has made record investments in alcohol and other drugs services with $273.1 million in the 2019-20 Victorian Budget – a 65 per cent increase across the past five State Budgets.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“We’re making more Naloxone available across Victoria because every drug overdose death is a tragedy. No family should ever have to go through the pain of losing a loved one to overdose.”

“We will continue to make record investments in alcohol and other drug initiatives to help address addiction and its devastating impact on Victorian communities.”

“Monuments across Melbourne will be lit up in purple to remember those Victorians who have lost their lives to overdose and also to acknowledge the impact this has on their family and friends.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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