The Prescription Opioid Epidemic in Australia

Sydney Chiropractor comments on Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2016

Opioid media release

Unknown to many, a record number of Australians are accidentally overdosing on prescription medicines in what medical authorities have labeled ‘an opioid epidemic’.


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of deaths from prescription painkillers has increased 61 percent between 2004-2014. Further key facts and figures are showing no stopping this hidden health crisis. However, the real question is, why is this happening?


Medical authorities such as The Pennington Institute note that deaths caused from opioid over prescription between 2008-2014 underscores how severe the overdose crisis is in Australia. According to their report, 69 percent of all drug-related deaths in Australia come from prescription painkillers.


Additionally, 58 percent of non-cancer prescriptions are for musculoskeletal pain including back and neck pain.


To bring more attention to this public health issue, it is essential to understand the reasons why these medications are being prescribed and how they may affect us adversely. Sydney based Chiropractor, Doctor Paul Calladine, had this to say on back pain:


“Back pain is commonly caused by a build-up of pressure locked in your body, caused by things such as sporting injuries, accidents and poor posture habits. Then, one day you wake up sore and wonder why. A chiropractic approach is based on fundamentals of restoring normal movement patterns to joints and postures, helping to manage chronic pain,” Dr. Calladine (Chiropractor) said.


The medical compound in question - opioids - are one of the most commonly prescribed drug classes for pain. Alarmingly, the efficacy of long-term opioid use has been called into question. A Cochrane Review showed that the adverse reactions far outweigh the beneficial effects of opioids in treating back pain.


“We know that opioids are an extremely powerful class of medication, with some nasty side effects. I want people to know that there are also natural pain relief solutions available that don’t rely on chemicals,” said Dr. Calladine (Chiropractor).


Although the prevalence of opioid overdose and accidental death is an urgent issue to be addressed, there is also growing awareness that other forms of treatment, including chiropractic, have an increasing role to play in addressing the problem at its source - fundamental injuries that cause pain. 


“A manual therapy approach to helping people suffering from musculoskeletal pain appears to help in many cases. It is very rewarding to be able to assist people who previously didn’t see a way out of their pain and medication cycles,” commented Dr. Calladine (Chiropractor).


All forms of health care have their place, but when research shows so many people are having trouble with pain and opioid side effects, we as a community need to rethink our approach.


Manual therapies, such as chiropractic, should be considered as first treatment options in a lot of these musculoskeletal pain cases. If you think you may have a dependence on painkillers or are looking for natural treatment options, why not phone your local chiropractor and ask about the services they offer.




- ENDS -




Advice for people suffering addiction

  1. Recognise that you're not alone: Lots of other people have gone through the same thing, even if it's something many are reluctant to discuss.
  2. Realise there is help available: You can talk to friends and family members. You can consult your local doctor or chiropractor. There are also community organisations that deal with addiction and issues like depression, including Anex ( and Community Overdose Prevention and Education (COPE) (
  3. Be aware that there's a lot more awareness nowadays about pain, natural therapies and medication side effects
  4. Many other practitioners are also raising awareness of this issue

For example, chiropractors, physiotherapists, remedial massage therapists. Finally, be aware addiction challenges are survivable.



Media Contact

Doctor Paul Calladine (Chiropractor)

Lyons Road Family Chiropractic

(02) 9819 6182

info (@)


Marshall Thurlow

Orion Marketing

marshall (@)


About Lyons Road Family Chiropractic

Lyons Road Family Chiropractic, owned and managed by experienced chiropractor Dr. Paul Calladine (Chiropractor) has been proudly servicing the healthcare needs of the Drummoyne community for over two decades.

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  • Harrison CM, Charles J, Henderson J, et al. Opioid prescribing in Australian general practice. Med J Aust 2012;196:380–1.
  • Penington Institute Australia’s Annual Overdose Report – 2016. Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
  • Rubinstein SM, van Middelkoop M, Assendelft WJJ, de Boer MR, van Tulder MW. Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD008112.
  • Chou R, Qaseem A, Snow V, Casey D, Cross JT, Shekelle P, et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Joint Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:478-491.
  • UK BEAM Trial Team. United Kingdom back pain exercise and manipulation (UK BEAM) randomised trial: effectiveness of physical treatments for back pain in primary care. BMJ. 2004 Dec 11;329(7479):1377. Epub 2004 Nov 19.
  • Richard A Deyo, Michael Von Korff, David Duhrkoop. Opioids for low back pain. BMJ 2015;350:g6380.
  • Jeffrey Freund, PharmD Connie Kraus, PharmD Christopher Hooper-Lane, MA. How effective are opioids for chronic low back pain? J Fam Pract. 2015 September;64(9):584-585.
  • Roelofs PDDM, Deyo RA, Koes BW, Scholten RJPM, van Tulder MW. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000396.

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