This article was posted by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation 24/08/16.
Heroin deaths spike as investigations begin into ‘strong batch’ in South Australia (Posted 23 Aug 2016, 6:49am)
Toxicologists have begun investigating a spike in heroin-related deaths as emergency and health services are put on high alert in South Australia.
A public health warning has been issued after 10 South Australians died from overdoses of either heroin or the potent synthetic painkiller fentanyl since the start of July.
Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Leesa Vlahos said on average in the state, there were one to two heroin-related deaths a month.
For the first time since taking over the portfolio six months ago, she said there had been a spike in deaths and two of those were related to fentanyl.
Those who died were aged between 31 and 56.
“There has been a spate of heroin-related deaths and the State Government has issued a public warning following the tragic drug overdose deaths,” she said.
“It would seem there is a batch that’s particularly strong that’s out here.
“It is an important reminder that drug use can be fatal.
“We don’t know where these illicit drugs are made, or mixed with, or [what] they contain, and even the smallest amount can result in death.”
Ms Vlahos said emergency services like police, ambulance officers and healthcare staff had been alerted to the spike and it was being investigated by toxicologists.
She urged anyone who wanted support to overcome drug addiction to contact health services like Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA).
Dr Chris Holmwood, from DASSA, said he was not aware of an overall increase in people using opioids.
“There are significant dangers associated with any illicit drug taking,” he said.
“Drug use can have a devastating effect on the individual, as well as their families and the wider community.”
People struggling with drug use can contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1300 131 340.