Heroin overdoses requiring treatment at Fiona Stanley Hospital increases more than 57 per cent

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE number of heroin overdoses requiring hospital treatment at Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) increased more than 57 per cent last year.

In 2016, 45 heroin-related presentations were recorded at FSH, rising to 71 patients last year.

Meanwhile, a naloxone program placing lifesaving medications in the hands of users is helping save lives.

Harm Reduction WA outreach co-ordinator Paul Dessauer said an injection of naloxone counters the effects of overdose for 30 to 90 minutes – a bit like having an Epi-Pen handy.

This buys enough time for an ambulance to arrive or avoids the need for hospital treatment afterwards.

While FSH is experiencing a spike in heroin overdose presentations, some hospitals have seen a decrease and broader figures have remained stable according to the Mental Health Commission.

But Mr Dessauer said the per capita rate of overdose deaths in WA and in Australia has been on a consistently increasing trend for the last decade, which is why the naloxone program was rolled out.

The naloxone program began five years ago and was expanded after recommendations by Curtin University study of the program late in 2016.

The study talked to 32 people who had successfully reversed overdoses and survived using naloxone.

The drug can be purchased over the counter but Harm Reduction WA offers training kits for free to any participants who are likely to experience or witness and opioid overdose.

Anyone interested in participating the program can call 9325 8387.

– Royal Perth Hospital recorded 114 presentations relating to heroin in 2017, down from 129 the previous year.
– Heroin-related presentations at Joondalup fell from 53 in 2016 to 35 in 2017.
– ttendances across metro hospital EDs relating to heroin remained stable from 2015 (385 presentations) to 2017 (382).
– The National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016 reported 0.2 per cent of West Australian aged 14 years and older had used heroin in the previous 12 months.
– More than 11 per cent reported using cannabis, and 6. 4 percent of West Australians in that age category reported drinking alcohol daily.

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