Pharma-drug abuse causes spike in ambo alerts

THE number of ambulance call-outs in Victoria related to use of pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressants and painkillers jumped last year, a new report has revealed.

In 2009–10, there were 3220 ambulance call-outs related to benzodiazepines, commonly prescribed for sleeping and anxiety issues.

Call-outs related to antidepressants were up 12% from 2008–09, to 1338, while call-outs for antipsychotics were up 10% to 1070.

Call-outs for opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone and morphine, increased almost 21%, to 521 from 432, while painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen accounted for 1456 call-outs, up slightly from 1449 the previous year. Alcohol-related call-outs were down 10% to 6204.

The research, carried out by Ambulance Victoria and the Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre (TPADC), is contained in a new report, Trends in Alcohol and Drug-related Ambulance Attendances, to be launched in