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Overdose alarm

AMBULANCE paramedics were called to 15 drug overdoses in Leongatha between May 2012 and April 2013, up from eight in the previous 12 month period.
While the figures represent a sharp increase in overdoses in the local drug scene, many more cases are flying under the radar.
Leongatha Memorial Hospital recorded 16 admissions for drug overdoses between June 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013, though the true figure is suspected to be much higher, with ‘urgent care’ presentations not included in the data.
In the previous 12 months, 25 admissions were recorded.
An FOI request for figures in the 24 month period between May 2011 and April 2013 for postcode 3995 (Wonthaggi and surrounds), postcode 3950 (Korumburra and surrounds), and postcode 3953 (Leongatha and surrounds) recorded a total of 126 suspected overdose/poisoning cases.
The Wonthaggi region’s overdoses declined from 49 in the first year to 37 in the next, while figures for the Korumburra region remained fairly steady, rising from eight to nine.
Anecdotal evidence puts many of the overdoses down to abuse of ice (crystal meth), a drug that continues to rise in popularity locally and across the country.
A recent report produced by Eastern Health’s Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in conjunction with Ambulance Victoria, Trends in Alcohol and Drug Related Ambulance Attendances in Victoria, found a massive increase in the number of ice-related ambulance callouts during 2011-12.
The research also found rates of attendances in regional Victoria were higher for cannabis, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioid analgesics and other analgesics when compared with metropolitan Melbourne.
Turning Point researcher Dr Belinda Lloyd said crystal methamphetamine use had the potential to have “severe mental and physical effects”, particularly when used with other drugs.
Ambulance Victoria’s manager for research and evaluation Associate Professor Karen Smith said drug and alcohol abuse was “having obvious impacts on the workload of our paramedics”.
Locally, police have executed a number of drug busts on houses in recent times. In the latest, which took place last Friday morning (July 12), police used a sniffer dog to net marijuana and fireworks in Blackmore Avenue, Leongatha, with a 31 year old man charged with a number of offences. Police say the Leongatha man will front court at a later date.
The raid follows on from the arrest of a 19 year old Mirboo North man on Friday, July 5, in Leongatha, for the trafficking of ice.
Meanwhile, larger raids have occurred in Wonthaggi and Dalyston. On Thursday, July 4, Morwell police seized more than $80,000 worth of drugs, plus cash and a BMW. The couple – one of whom was a 21 year old pregnant woman – have been remanded in custody. Another raid was made in Wonthaggi on the same day, along with the one in Dalyston.
Ice, with a street value of $73,000, was seized in one of the raids.
In May, police raided two Leongatha properties in Peart Street and Hassett Street, with a large variety of drugs, including GBH (gammahydroxybutyrate), ecstasy, meth amphetamines and cannabis, claimed. The street value of the haul was estimated at tens of thousands of dollars.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=7933

Posted by on Jul 18 2013. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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