By John Martin, Medical Editor | November 27, 2017 06:14:25Karin Ostrander and her husband, Kevin, live on a small, isolated island off the north-western coast of Australia.
They use the emergency services, but their main focus is the pharmacy, and the medication they use.
“We have to stay as much as we can out of the water, away from the shoreline, and in the mountains,” she says.
“The only place we can get pills is on the beach.”
In her 20 years of living on the island, there have been no major health issues, but they’ve been dealing with a growing number of prescription-drug-related incidents.
“When we’re dealing with prescription drugs, it’s not just one thing, it can be a series of things,” Ms Ostranders says.
Her husband has to pay a fee to get the medication for their six children, and she’s had to make other arrangements to be able to buy her own medication.
“If I go and buy it at a local pharmacy, they don’t give me the prescription,” she explains.
“I’m not getting any kind of discount.”‘
We’ve had to pay the price’For years, doctors, pharmacists and pharmacists on the mainland have warned of a “death spiral” of opioid prescribing, with the problem increasing exponentially in recent years.
In the past three years, there has been an unprecedented increase in overdose deaths, with deaths due to the illicit drug, fentanyl, soaring by more than 20 per cent.
“It’s been a constant battle, for sure,” Ms Laughlin says.”[For the past 10 years] we’ve had no real change, no major changes.
It’s just continued.”
There have been some changes in the way the prescribing is done, but we’ve still got that death spiral going.
“The issue has caused some families on the islands to have to cope with the financial cost of prescription medication, with some living on $10,000 a year, and others struggling to pay their mortgage.”
They can’t afford to go and live on the ocean,” Ms Kaines says.
They also rely on a government-funded drug-treatment program, which has had its funding cut over the past year.
The Government announced in June that the state government would cut funding for the program by up to $2.4 million over the next two years, to cut costs and make it easier for people to access help.”
At least 50 per cent of our population has an addiction to painkillers and they can’t get treatment,” Ms Anderson says.
The cuts to the drug program are set to expire on July 31.”
People are feeling a bit down, but at the same time, it is our job to give them the help they need,” Ms Keates says.
She says there is no money for opioid addiction treatment on the current budget, and many people are using their savings to buy medication.
The problem isn’t just a health issue for her family, but for her husband and children.”
With our income, we have a really good life and our family is going to struggle with it,” Ms Janssens says.
While Ms Ostraanders is happy with the cuts to her state’s drug program, she worries about the impact it’s having on her family.”
For them, it could mean that their kids don’t have a chance to live and go to university, and their jobs are gone,” she said.”
Their future may be bleak.