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Release: Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales, 2012

Released: 28 August 2013


Vanessa Fearn

Life Events Analysis

Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455341

Categories: Health and Social Care, Health of the Population, Causes of Death, Poisoning, Lifestyles and Behaviours, Drug use, Alcohol and Smoking, Drug Misuse, Population, Deaths, Mortality Rates, Drug-related Deaths

Frequency of release: Annually

Language: English

Geographical coverage: England and Wales

Geographical breakdown: Country, Region

  • There were 1,706 male drug poisoning deaths (involving both legal and illegal drugs) registered in 2012, a 4% decrease since 2011.

  • Female drug poisoning deaths have increased every year since 2009, reaching 891 in 2012.

  • The number of male drug misuse deaths (involving illegal drugs) decreased by 9% from 1,192 in 2011 to 1,086 in 2012; female deaths decreased by 1% from 413 in 2011 to 410 in 2012.

  • The highest mortality rate from drug misuse was in 30 to 39-year-olds, at 97.8 and 28.9 deaths per million population for males and females respectively in 2012.

  • The number of deaths involving heroin/morphine fell slightly in 2012 to 579 deaths, but these remain the substances most commonly involved in drug poisoning deaths.

  • The number of deaths involving tramadol have continued to rise, with 175 deaths in 2012 – more than double the number seen in 2008 (83 deaths).

  • Mortality rates from drug misuse were significantly higher in Wales than in England in 2012, at 45.8 and 25.4 deaths per million population respectively.

  • In England, the North West had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse in 2012 (41.0 deaths per million population).

  • All figures presented in this bulletin are based on deaths registered in a particular calendar year, and out of the 2,597 drug-related deaths registered in 2012, 1,358 (just over half) occurred in years prior to 2012.

About this bulletin

This statistical bulletin presents the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics on deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales for the last five years. Data from 1993 are available to download, and are discussed in the commentary to provide context to the latest data. Figures are presented by cause of death, sex, age, substance(s) involved in the death, and by country and region.

Additional information

Information about the underlying mortality data, including details on how the data is collected and coded, data quality and legislation are available in the Mortality metadata and Quality and Methodology Information for Mortality Statistics in England and Wales.

Specific information about the quality of drug-related deaths data can be found in the Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) paper.

Further ONS releases based on death registrations

Mortality Statistics: Deaths registered in England and Wales (Series DR) is an annual publication containing a range of detailed reference tables, including the number of deaths broken down by cause of death, sex and five-year age group. 

The 20th Century Mortality Files are a record of mortality in England and Wales from 1901 to 2000 while the 21st Century Mortality Files are a record of mortality in England and Wales from 2001 onwards.

Injury and Poisoning mortality, England and Wales presents annual data on deaths from injury and poisoning in England and Wales using a matrix of mechanism by intent developed by the International Collaborative Effort (ICE) on injury statistics.

UK suicides present suicide numbers and rates in the United Kingdom, England and Wales, and Regions in England.

UK data

For mortality data for other UK countries please see statistics on deaths in Scotland and statistics on deaths in Northern Ireland.


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Pre-release access 

These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.