Opioids are driving drug overdose deaths, but people with addiction are struggling to access treatment


Methadone, and other similar opioid replacement therapies (ORT), have been used for decades in countries including Australia, and are designed to reduce craving and withdrawals associated with opioid dependence.

Now, frontline health workers have warned many Australians who live with opioid addiction are struggling to access support and the ORTs that could save their lives.

Ms McLeod is worried about the length of time it takes some people just to find a prescriber who can get them onto those therapies.

It is also a concern for doctors, who are especially worried for people in regional areas who have to wait years, or cannot access ORT locally at all.

That is according to addiction medicine specialist Hester Wilson, the chairperson of the Special Interest Group in Addiction with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

She said many of the GPs who have been prescribing the medications for decades are now retiring, and not enough new doctors are registering to prescribe the therapies because it is expensive and time consuming.

The revelations come as data released by the Penington Institute shows overdose deaths in Australia are being driven by opioids and the misuse of prescription medications.

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