Home > Drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users, 2012.

Lynn, Ena (2015) Drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users, 2012. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 53, Spring 2015 , pp. 1-3.

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The latest figures on drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users in Ireland, up to 2012, have been published.1  The number of deaths has decreased slightly from 645 in 2011 to 633 in 2012. Of the total number of deaths in 2012, 350 people died as a result of poisoning (i.e. toxic effect of drug[s] in the body), and 283 were drug users who died as a result of trauma, such as hanging, or from a medical cause, for example liver disease. It is important to note that the figures in this update supersede all previously published figures. Similarly, figures for 2012 will be revised when data relating to new cases become available, i.e. as more inquest cases close. For example, in January 2014 the number of drug-related deaths for 2011 was 607, but over the past 11 months this has risen to the 645 figure we now have recorded.

 

In the nine-year period 2004–2012, a total of 5,289 deaths by drug poisoning and deaths among drug users met the criteria for inclusion in the National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) database. Of these deaths, 3,112 were due to poisoning and 2,177 were deaths among drug users (non-poisoning) (Table 1).  Deaths due to polydrug use have increased by 60% over the reporting period, from 118 in 2004 to 189 in 2012.

 

Poisoning deaths, 2012

The annual number of poisoning deaths decreased from 387 in 2011 to 350 in 2012 (Table 1).  As in previous years, the majority (74%) in 2012 were male; the median age of those who died was 40 years, again similar to previous years.

 

In 2012, alcohol was, once again, the drug most commonly involved in poisoning deaths (36%). Prescription drugs played a significant part in poisoning deaths, with over a third (35%) of these deaths involving benzodiazepines. Methadone was implicated in a quarter of deaths, with the majority (87%) involving polydrugs. Antidepressants were implicated in a quarter (25%) of deaths, with females accounting for almost half (46%) of these deaths.

 

The number of poisoning deaths in which heroin was implicated continues to decline, falling by 47% to 61 in 2012, compared to a peak of 115 in 2009.

 

Over half (54%) of all poisoning deaths in 2012 involved more than one drug (polydrug use).  Over a third (37%) of those who died from poisoning in 2012 had a history of mental illness.

 

Non-poisoning deaths, 2012

The number of non-poisoning deaths recorded among drug users increased to 283, compared to 258 in 2011 (Table 1). Where the specific cause of death is known, these deaths are categorised as being due to either trauma or medical causes (Figure 1).

Deaths due to trauma

The number of deaths due to trauma increased in 2012 to 138 deaths from 124 in 2011, an increase of 11% (Figure 1). The majority (72%) of those who died were aged under 39 years. The median age was 29 years. As in previous years, the majority (82%) were male. The most common causes of death due to trauma were hanging (52%) and drowning (14%). Of note is the increasing number of deaths due to hanging, from 53 deaths in 2010 to 72 in 2012. Over half (52%) of those who died from traumatic causes in 2012 had a history of mental illness.

 

Deaths due to medical causes

The number of deaths due to medical causes increased by 8% in 2012 to 143 deaths, from 132 in 2011 (Figure 1). The majority of those who died (67%) were aged between 35 and 59 years. The median age was 46 years. Males accounted for 70% of those who died due to medical causes. The most common medical causes of death were cardiac events (31%) and liver diseases (16%).  (Ena Lynn)

 

  1. Health Research Board (2014) Drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users in Ireland: 2012 figures from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index.  https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/23003

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 53, Spring 2015
Date:March 2015
Page Range:pp. 1-3
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 53, Spring 2015
EndNote:View
Subjects: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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