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Louis Theroux Fears Side Effects Of Australia’s Codeine Ban

Could ‘well-meaning’ policy backfire?

Louis Theroux Fears Side Effects Of Australia’s Codeine Ban Image: Heroin Town/YouTube

Ahead of a nation-wide ban on the sale of over-the-counter codeine, filmmaker Louis Theroux is warning Aussies of some worst-case scenarios sparked by change.

From 2018, Australians will need a prescription to buy painkillers containing the opioid codeine after a report found accidental opioid-related deaths had doubled in the space of a decade.

Having just finished work on documentary Heroin Town - investigating opioid addiction in West Virginia – Theroux warns that “well-meaning social policies” could have some nasty side effects.

"It's not as though it's easy from a policy position to solve these sort of slow-moving social phenomena,” he told AAP.

“Everyone in America now knows what's going on and they know that Big Pharma caused rampant addiction and that once they clamped down on it the people involved migrated to heroin, but even with that knowledge it doesn't become totally clear what the best way forward is."

Keeping this in mind, Theroux said it was unclear how Australians would handle the changes.

"I think you just have to slightly kind of brace yourself for the impact and express tolerance and also, in the kind of micro level, it's about not enabling addiction in your own immediate circle," he said.

Heroin Town in currently screening in selected Australian cinemas.

You can check out a preview of the documentary below, but please note it’s got some disturbing scenes.