• we first published these statistics in 2000 as an annual report in the Health Statistics Quarterly

  • since 2010 the statistics have been published as a statistical bulletin on Deaths related to Drug Poisoning

  • data is gathered using a drugs database we developed, which extracts data from the national mortality database for England and Wales

This report is part of an ongoing programme of quality reports that we created to go alongside the statistical outputs. The deaths and mortality rates are given for all deaths related to drug poisoning (legal and illegal) and for drug misuse (involving illegal drugs).

Figures are broken down by cause of death, sex, age and the substances involved with the death. All of our mortality data (including drug related deaths) is collected when a death is certified and registered. We code all of the causes mentioned on a death certificate using the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Most drug related deaths are certified by a coroner, due to the extra information contained on the coroner’s death certificate, the cause coding must be carried out manually.

Drug use and drug dependence are known causes of premature mortality, with drug poisoning accounting for nearly 1 in 7 deaths among people in their 20s and 30s in 2013. Due to this, there is a lot of political, media and public interest in these figures. The statistics on deaths related to drug poisoning are used by a range of public bodies, the Department for Health and Public Health Wales, to help monitor the effectiveness of the policies that are aimed at reducing drug related deaths.

The data in the drug poisoning database are used by medical professionals, academics and other researchers to find trends in drug related deaths and effectiveness of the measures taken to prevent of treat drug overdoses.

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