Australia has also had a rapid increase in the number of people dying from methamphetamine overdoses.
Australia has also had a rapid increase in the number of people dying from methamphetamine overdoses. MICK TSIKAS

Middle-aged men mix their own drug deaths

DRUG-related deaths have reached alarming rates in Australia - now at the highest number in 20 years.

Prescription drugs caused the most drug-induced deaths last year, but there has been a rapid increase in deaths from methamphetamine overdoses.

There were 1808 drug-induced deaths registered in Australia in 2016, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday.

That's similar to rates in the late 1990s when Australia was in the grip of a heroin crisis, but the profile of who has a drug-related death has changed.

Middle aged men misusing self-mixed cocktails of prescription drugs were more likely to have an accidental drug death than users of illegal drugs.

"In 2016, an individual dying from a drug-induced death in Australia was most likely to be a middle aged male, living outside of a capital city who is misusing prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines or oxycodone in a polypharmacy (the use of multiple drugs) setting,” the ABS said in a statement yesterday.

"The death was most likely to be an accident.

"This profile is quite different from that in 1999, where a person who died from a drug induced death was most likely to be younger (early 30s) with morphine, heroin or benzodiazepines detected on toxicology at death.”

The number of Australians dying from methamphetamine last year was four times higher than in 1999.

The ABS causes of death data released yesterday show dementia has become the leading cause of death among women in Australia.

Heart disease is still the nation's biggest killer overall. - Claire Bickers



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