Prescriptions for opioids in Victoria increased by 78% over the period 2006 to 2013, a study reveals.
The analysis of ABS and PBS data found that the rise in prescriptions for opioids was most pronounced in women and older Australians, with highest rates of use among those aged ≥85 years.
Figures also showed that hospital admissions and deaths related to prescription opioid poisoning increased, and occurred most commonly in the 25-44 year age group.
Furthermore, the majority of hospital admissions were due to intentional self-poisoning.
“The results emphasise the need for more in-depth research on opioid-related hospital admissions and deaths in Australia, and a better understanding of the drivers of prescribing and adverse consequences of prescribing,” the researchers wrote in their paper published in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
“This will facilitate early detection and prevention of a potential opioid epidemic,” they added.