The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish an annual statistical bulletin showing the number of deaths related to drug poisoning registered in England and Wales each year. Within the statistical bulletin table 3 shows the number of deaths where selected substances were mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010 (the latest year available). A more detailed reference table containing data from 1993 to 2010 is available to download by clicking 'Data in this release'. Please note that you will need to look at reference table 4a, not table 3. This data is available from the Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales release.
All of the mortality data held by ONS comes from the information collected when a death is registered. The vast majority of deaths related to drug poisoning are registered following a coroner's inquest, so these statistics are based on the information from the coroner's death certificate. Unfortunately coroner's death certificates almost never contain details about whether or not a substance was prescribed to the deceased by a GP, psychiatrist or other medical practitioner or whether they obtained it by other means.
ONS figures are therefore based on any mention of a substance on the death certificate, regardless of how that substance was obtained. Where more than one drug is mentioned on a death certificate the death will be counted in more than one category in the table. For example, if both heroin and cannabis are mentioned, the death will be recorded once under heroin and once under cannabis. Therefore the figures for different substances cannot be added together to give a total number of deaths from drug poisoning.
A wide range of mortality data is available on request from the mortality team (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control and agreement of costs, where appropriate). You do not need to make a Freedom of Information request and can contact the team directly at: email@example.com