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Lyons, Suzi and Walsh, Simone (2010) Update on drug-related deaths. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 34, Summer 2010 , p. 4.

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National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) figures on drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users in 2006 and 2007 are now available on the web.1  Previously reported figures for the years 1998–2005 have been updated to include data from the Coroner Service on late inquests. Similarly, figures for the years 2006 and 2007 will be revised when data relating to late inquests becomes available. 

Between 1998 and 2007 a total of 3,465 drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users met the criteria for inclusion in the NDRDI database.  Of these deaths, 2,120 were due to poisoning and 1,345 were due to traumatic or medical causes (non-poisoning) (Table 1).  The annual number of deaths more than doubled in nine years, rising from 242 in 1998 to 491 in 2006. The number fell to 476 in 2007, but this figure may be revised upwards when data relating to late inquests becomes available.  In 1998, almost three-quarters (73.6%) of drug-related deaths recorded in the NDRDI were poisonings. The percentage of such deaths decreased over the 10-year reporting period, with 57% of deaths in 2007 due to poisoning and 42% to other causes (non-poisoning).
 

Poisoning deaths
The annual number of deaths by poisoning increased from 178 in 1998 to 274 in 2007 (Table 1). The majority of cases in the 10-year period were aged between 20 and 40 years; the median age was 34 years. Males accounted for 68% of deaths in the 10 years. 

Just over half of all deaths by poisoning involved more than one substance (polysubstance cases). Heroin and other opiates, including methadone, were implicated in over half (55.3%, 1,172) of all cases. Cocaine was implicated in 10% of all cases in the 10-year period, with the annual number rising from five in 1998 to 63 in 2007. Prescription and over-the-counter medication was implicated in many of the deaths by poisoning. Benzodiazepines continued to play a major role in polysubstance poisonings..
 
Since 2003, more deaths by poisoning occurred outside Dublin than inside Dublin (city and county). The number of poisoning deaths increased in all but two of the regional drugs task force (RDTF) areas between 1998 and 2007. The South Western RDTF area recorded the highest number of deaths (n=478) for the 10-year period.
 
Non-poisoning deaths
A total of 1,345 non-poisoning deaths among drug users was recorded between 1998 and 2007. Of the 1,183 cases with a known cause of death, 60.3% (714) were due to trauma and 40% (469) were due to medical causes (Figure 1).

Deaths due to trauma
The annual number of deaths due to trauma increased from 39 in 1998 to 116 in 2006, but decreased to 87 in 2007 (Figure 1). These figures may be revised when data relating to late inquests becomes available. Half (50.4%, 360) of those who died from traumatic causes were aged between 20 and 29 years. The median age was 27 years. Almost all (90.1%, 643) of those who died were male. The most common causes of death due to trauma were hanging and road traffic collisions. 

Deaths due to medical causes
The annual number of deaths due to medical causes rose fairly steadily over the reporting period, increasing from 11 in 1998 to 98 in 2007, when it exceeded the number of deaths due to trauma (Figure 1). The majority of those who died from medical causes were aged between 30 and 44 years. The median age was 39 years. Three-quarters (75.0%, 352) of those who died were male. The most common medical causes of death were cardiac events (25.2%, 118), respiratory infections (17.7%, 83) and liver disease (10.2%, 48).
 
 Health Research Board (2010). Drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users in Ireland, 1998 to 2007. Data from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index

 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 34, Summer 2010
Date:2010
Page Range:p. 4
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 34, Summer 2010
EndNote:View
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death

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