Home > Update on drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users.

Lynn, Ena and Lyons, Suzi and Walsh, Simone (2012) Update on drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 40, Winter 2011 , pp. 18-19.

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National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) figures on drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users reported in 2009 are now available on the web.1 The figures in this update supersede all previously published figures. Similarly, figures for 2009 will be revised when data relating to new cases becomes available. 

For the first time, alcohol only poisonings are included in this analysis. Previously these cases have been reported separately.
 
In the six-year period 2004–2009 a total of 3,334 deaths by drug poisoning and deaths among drug users met the criteria for inclusion in the NDRDI database. Of these deaths, 2,015 were due to poisoning and 1,319 were due to traumatic or medical causes (non-poisoning) (Table 1).
 
Table 1   Number of NDRDI deaths, by year of death, NDRDI 2004 to 2009 (N=3,334)

 

Poisoning deaths in 2009
The annual number of deaths by poisoning increased from 267 in 2004 to 381 in 2008, and dropped to 357 in 2009 (Table 1). The majority of deaths in each year were of males, who accounted for 68% of the poisoning deaths in 2009. The majority of those who died in 2009 were aged between 20 and 44 years; the median age was 37 years.
 
Just over half (51%) of all poisoning deaths involved more than one substance (polysubstance cases). The number of deaths where heroin was implicated rose to 108 in 2009, compared to 90 in 2008. Cocaine was implicated in 14% of deaths in the six-year period. The number of deaths where cocaine was implicated dropped to 52 in 2009, compared to 61 in 2008. In 2009, the number of deaths where methadone was implicated dropped to 66, compared to 80 in 2008.
 
Alcohol was involved in 40% of all poisoning deaths in the six-year period – more than any other substance. Prescription and over-the-counter medication was implicated in many cases. Benzodiazepines continued to play a major role in polysubstance poisonings.
 
In 2009 the highest number of poisoning deaths was recorded in the North Dublin City and County Regional Drugs Task Force area. The most significant increase between 2008 and 2009, at 95%, was in the Mid West Regional Drugs Task Force area.
 
Non-poisoning deaths in 2009
The number of non-poisoning deaths increased by 81% over the reporting period, from 155 in 2004 to 281 in 2009. Of the 281 deaths in 2009, over half (56%, 157) were due to trauma and the remainder (44%, 124) were due to medical causes.

Poisoning deaths in 2009
The annual number of deaths by poisoning increased from 267 in 2004 to 381 in 2008, and dropped to 357 in 2009 (Table 1). The majority of deaths in each year were of males, who accounted for 68% of the poisoning deaths in 2009. The majority of those who died in 2009 were aged between 20 and 44 years; the median age was 37 years. 

Just over half (51%) of all poisoning deaths involved more than one substance (polysubstance cases). The number of deaths where heroin was implicated rose to 108 in 2009, compared to 90 in 2008. Cocaine was implicated in 14% of deaths in the six-year period. The number of deaths where cocaine was implicated dropped to 52 in 2009, compared to 61 in 2008. In 2009, the number of deaths where methadone was implicated dropped to 66, compared to 80 in 2008.
 
Alcohol was involved in 40% of all poisoning deaths in the six-year period – more than any other substance. Prescription and over-the-counter medication was implicated in many cases. Benzodiazepines continued to play a major role in polysubstance poisonings.
 
In 2009 the highest number of poisoning deaths was recorded in the North Dublin City and County Regional Drugs Task Force area. The most significant increase between 2008 and 2009, at 95%, was in the Mid West Regional Drugs Task Force area.
 
Non-poisoning deaths in 2009
The number of non-poisoning deaths increased by 81% over the reporting period, from 155 in 2004 to 281 in 2009. Of the 281 deaths in 2009, over half (56%, 157) were due to trauma and the remainder (44%, 124) were due to medical causes.
 
Deaths due to trauma
The number of deaths due to trauma increased annually, rising from 95 in 2004 to 157 in 2009 (Figure 1). The majority (82, 55%) of those who died in 2009 were aged under 35 years. The median age was 33 years. As in previous years, the majority (123, 78%) were male.  The most common causes of death due to trauma in 2009 were hanging and choking.
 
Deaths due to medical causes
The annual number of deaths due to medical causes rose steadily over the reporting period, increasing from 42 in 2004 to 124 in 2009 (Figure 1). The majority (57%) of those who died were aged between 30 and 49 years. The median age was 41 years. Males accounted for 71% (88) of those who died. The most common medical causes of death in 2009 were cardiac events (42, 34%), respiratory infections (15, 12%) and cancer (13, 10%).

 

1. Health Research Board (2011) Drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users in Ireland: 2009 figures from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index. Available at 1636https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/
Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 40, Winter 2011
Date:January 2012
Page Range:pp. 18-19
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 40, Winter 2011
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Drug use > Drug intoxication > Poisoning (overdose)
G Health and disease > Disorder by cause > Emotional trauma
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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