Vol. 18, ed. 2

September 2021

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Dear colleagues,

The lead story in this month’s Bulletin brings together seven stories of people who’ve had their own brush with overdose, either through their own overdose or through losing a loved one.

As we remember the people no longer with us and acknowledge the pain of the loved ones left behind,
it is also a chance to sharpen our focus on what needs to be done to reduce overdose.

On the 4th of August, new amendments come into effect in Victoria which eliminated the offence for a person who collects sterile injecting equipment from an NSP to share that equipment with others.

In addition, trained workers at Victorian NSPs can also supply naloxone to members of the community who may be at risk of opioid overdose. Victoria is not the rst to make such a change, but it is still an important step.

The naloxone change will save lives and should be commended.

Naloxone is vital but our entire system of managing opioids and other drug harms needs serious attention.

The overdose challenge is taken up by Adrian Dunlop, Buddhima Lokuge and Nick Lintzeris in their recent editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia. In their piece, the authors explain that our patchwork approach to managing opioids is failing patients.

They write that a “comprehensive and coordinated approach to overdose prevention by national and state governments and professional groups is needed.”

The best solution would be a National Overdose Prevention Strategy, developed in close collaboration with frontline workers, people with lived experience and other experts, aiming to end overdose.

Australia had an overdose strategy twenty years ago. Although much of it is still relevant, it’s gathered dust while tens of thousands have died unnecessarily.

As always, please get in touch with your thoughts – we rely on the feedback of people living through drug issues to inform our approach.

John Ryan
CEO, Penington Institute