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Continued reduction in the number of drug-related deaths in the UK

The National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) based at the International Centre for Drug Policy, St George's, University of London, has found that there has been a decline in the number of drug-related deaths occurring, from 1,487 in 2003 to 1,372 in 2004, a drop of eight per cent. The report published today contains information on drug-related deaths for the year 2004 reported by Coroners and Procurators Fiscal in the UK and Islands (Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man). The figures for 2004 do not include information for Northern Ireland.

Main findings are:

The majority of deaths were of males (72 per cent)

73 per cent of all deaths were under the age of 45 years.

56 per cent of cases died from accidental poisoning. This is a five percent increase compared with the previous year. However, the proportion of intentional self-poisoning cases remained stable at 35 percent.

Opiates/opioids (i.e. heroin/morphine; methadone; other opiate/opioid analgesics), alone or in combination with other drugs, accounted for the majority of fatalities (68 per cent) in 2004. Even though the total number of deaths had fallen between 2003 and 2004, the number of deaths involving heroin/morphine was virtually unchanged and so there has been an increase in the proportion of deaths involving heroin/morphine by 6% (to 46%). The proportions of deaths involving other illicit drugs remained stable.

A decrease of about two per cent in the proportion of cases involving other opiates/opioid analgesics (i.e. codeine, dextropropoxyphene, dihydrocodeine) was observed, together with a reduction of about three percent in the proportion of cases involving hypnotics/sedatives.

In England and Wales, Brighton & Hove recorded the highest annual drug-related death rate per 100,000 population (21.8), followed by Liverpool (15.8), and Blackpool & the Fylde (11.1). Of these five areas, only Liverpool showed an increase over 2003 (up
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Source:St. George's University of London


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