CHANGE NEEDED: Terrica Strudwick wants help for people struggling from substance abuse
CHANGE NEEDED: Terrica Strudwick wants help for people struggling from substance abuse Meg Bolton

The scary statistic that took Terrica's breath away

HEARING a loved one has died from the caller on the other end of the phone is Terrica Strudwick's worst nightmare, but she knows the fear is a very real possibility - what she wants more than anything is to help her loved ones who frequently use drugs, before it's too late.

She sits across the table with a piece of paper scribbled with key messages about why Rockhampton needs a rehabilitation centre, but when she hears a statistic from Australia's Annual Overdose Report she loses breath.

People using drugs in Queensland are nine times more likely to die from an unintentional drug overdose now than they were 10 years ago, according to the report - the statistic brings a tear to her eye.

She said a lot of the time you don't actually know your loved ones were using drugs.

"It's like you get swept up in a whirlwind before you know it, because its gotten so out of hand,” she said.

The report found the number of Australians dying from unintentional overdoses has increased by almost 38 per cent in the last 10 years.

Rather than stigmatising drug users, people need to help those struggling, according to Ms Strudwick.

"Have empathy and try to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes and walk a day in their footsteps,” she said.

The report found more Australians have died from unintentional overdoses than car accidents since 2008, which has prompted a call for change.

Substance abuse organisation, Penington Institute chief executive John Ryan said it's time to call this what it is: Australia's very own overdose crisis. "And make no mistake, it's a crisis that is getting worse,” he said.

"Unintentional deaths involving stimulants have almost tripled in the last five years alone. That points to a problem that we're just not getting to grips with.”