‘Like an A380 going down every year’: Victorian drugs campaigner laments a political culture costing lives

Sam Biondo knows drugs can kill people. But he knows bad politics can too.

As he prepares to leave after 16 years at the helm of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (Vaada), Biondo has revealed his immense frustration at having watched thousands of people die unnecessarily because governments fear “being crucified” by the media and opposition.

“In Victoria alone on an annual basis we have more than 500 people dying from overdoses. That’s like an A380 going down every year,” Biondo tells Guardian Australia.

“In the time I’ve worked here … it’s probably about 7,000 people who have died of overdoses. It does your head in when you know many of those deaths are preventable.”