A new report is highlighting a misconception that overdose from drugs only kills younger people.

The Penington Institute report found overdose has taken the lives of over 35,000 Australians since 2001 and accounts for one person dying every four hours.

It found that people from all sectors of society are dying from preventable overdoses and the issue relates to prescription drugs as well as illicit substances.

CEO of the institute, John Ryan says there are stigmas around drug use that prevent people from using medical services.

He spoke to NIRS News about the need for a national overdose strategy.