HORSHAM has higher rates of ambulance call-outs for antidepressant-related incidents than Ballarat and Warrnambool.
Paramedics attended 20 anti-depressant-related incidents in 2011-12, compared with 19 in Ballarat, eight in Warrnambool and seven in the Northern Grampians Shire.
Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce chairwoman Nyree Hutchins said the statistics were alarming.
“Antidepressants are fairly accessible drugs and are pretty safe, even in large doses,” she said.
“But it is worrying that for us, harm from antidepressants is so high.
“It is hard to know what has caused that – it could be because people in rural areas are more likely to use depression and anxiety medication because it can be harder to access other treatments.”
The Turning Point data also shows paramedics were called to 28 alcohol-related incidents in Horsham Rural City, 14 in Northern Grampians Shire, 12 in Ararat Rural City, eight in Yarriambiack Shire and five in Hindmarsh Shire.
Dr Hutchins said it was disappointing to see ambulance resources attending preventable incidents.
“We don’t want to have anyone needing an ambulance because of drinking, especially because ambulances are very valuable resources,” she said.
“Australia has a binge-drinking culture problem and the statistics show that while fewer people are drinking, the people who do drink are drinking a lot more.
“If more people are drinking to excess that is going to play out in ambulance call-outs because people can get into a lot of trouble.”
Dr Hutchins said there were no straightforward answers on how to change the binge-drinking culture.
She said parents needed to set a good example for their children.
“Ultimately the binge-drinking culture is our biggest issue because what is seen as ‘normal’ behaviour has the biggest influence,” she said.
“We can educate our young people until we go blue in the face but if our own behaviour is contrary to that, they are going to be listening to our behaviour and not our words.
“The nature of the beast is that people lose their ability to second-guess themselves and lose their inhibitions.
“It is partly about knowing your body and how it works and responding to that.”