News & Events

WRAD highlights preventable drug overdoses

WRAD centre is turning purple to highlight preventable deaths from overdoses, including risks associated with prescribed medication.

WRAD is using International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 to remember without stigma those who have died or become permanently injured due to overdose and to highlight effective harm reduction strategies.

To mark the day, WRAD is shining a light on the stigma and demonisation of drug addiction by lighting up its Merri Street building in purple lights from August 29 to September 2.

The colour purple sends a message that every person’s life is valuable and that stigmatising people who use drugs needs to stop.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recorded 1,842 drug-induced deaths in 2020, with more than two-thirds considered accidental and just over 20 per cent intentional.

WRAD assertive youth outreach worker Harriet Rose said deaths from overdoses have outnumbered the national road toll since 2014 yet the issue is rarely discussed.

“These are preventable and unnecessary deaths,” Ms Rose said.

Ms Rose said drug dependence was a complex health and social issue, not a sign of personal or moral failure. “The shame and stigma associated with drug use pushes people to the margins of society, creates barriers to seeking help, and means health issues go untreated,” she said.

She added that many overdoses were connected to prescribed medications, not illicit substances.

“A common misconception is that overdoses only occur with illicit substances like heroin. All drugs can cause an overdose, including prescription and pharmaceutical medications. Often, it is a combination of drugs that results in an overdose. For instance, many substances have a sedative or depressant effect on the body where they slow the vital body activities including breathing and the heart rate. These substances are often prescribed or taken to alleviate pain, assist with sleep, or used recreationally like alcohol. However, when taken in excessive amounts or in combination, they can depress normal functions until breathing and the heart eventually stop, resulting in an overdose and potential death.”

International Overdose Awareness Day is also an opportunity to promote the lifesaving medication Naloxone. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids and provides opportunities for opioid overdoses to be treated immediately. Naloxone is now available as an intranasal device (Nyxoid) and is easy and safe for people to use at home.

People can access free Naloxone and information about how to use it from a community pharmacist or WRAD. WRAD will also provide education sessions for interested community members.

People can get more information about drugs, overdose and overdose death prevention such as the use of Nyxoid by contacting WRAD on 5564 5777. WRAD and Handbury Medical Suites now provides after hours support on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm-8:30pm, with appointments available with GPs and drug and alcohol clinicians.

For drug and alcohol issues, call Directline 1800 888236, or WRAD 55 645777


Our Vision & Values

WRAD HEALTH’s vision is to advance the health and wellbeing of those in the South Western Region of Victoria affected by Addictive behaviours and to promote optimal enjoyment of life.

WRAD HEALTH seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic support and treatment to individuals and others affected by addictive behaviors and associated issues.

The philosophy of harm minimisation underpins the delivery of all programs offered by WRAD HEALTH. This principle recognises that people in our society use both licit and illicit drugs, and that drugs can be used in ways that are more or less harmful to individuals, families and society. Harm minimisation offers a number of options designed to reduce the harm of drug use to the user and society.


Need After Hours Help?

Emergency call 000
For medical issues call South West Healthcare 55 631666
For mental health issues call SWH emergency dep't 55 631 666 or 1800 808 284
For drug and alcohol issues call Directline 1800 888 236
For Lifeline call 13 11 14
Or click on the links below for help.