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FOI request: Deaths relating to use of 'legal highs'

Request

How many patients have been admitted following legal high use each year? (2003-2013)
How many patients have been permanently brain damaged as a result of legal highs? (2003-2013)
How many patients have died following legal high use each year? (2003-2013)
How many patients have died as a direct result of legal high use each year?  (2003-2013)
(With regard to Question 1 and 2) How many of these patients were aged:
16-18
18-30
30-50
50+
How many victims were male?
How many victims were female?

Response

Thank you for your recent query regarding legal high use.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not hold any information on patient admissions. Therefore we are unable to provide figures the number of patients admitted following legal high use and the number of patients  brain damaged as a result of legal highs.

Figures for Hospital admissions can be accessed from the Health and Social Care Information Centre wesbite using the following address: www.hscic.gov.uk/home

The Office for National Statistics holds mortality data derived from the information collected when a death is registered. All the conditions and circumstances recorded on the medical certificate of cause of death, or the coroner's death certificate, are coded using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). It is important to note that while place of death is recorded whether the deceased was a patient at the time of death is not.

There is no official definition of the term ‘legal high’. However the Office for National Statistics does monitor deaths from drug-related poisoning, allowing analysis of deaths by specific substances involved.

In recent years a number of novel psychoactive substances have been controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. These include gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and its precursor gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), piperazines (benzylpiperazine – BZP and trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine – TFMPP), pipradrols such as desoxypipradrol, and cathinones such as mephedrone. Cathinone is one of the active ingredients in herbal Khat (Catha edulis), although Khat is not currently controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act. All of these substances have been mentioned in association with the term ‘legal high’, although it should be noted that once a substance is added to the list of substances controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it is no longer ‘legal’. There were 52 drug-related deaths mentioning these substances in England and Wales, registered in 2012 (the latest year available). A full list of the substances included can be found in the attached tables or the bulletin deatiled below.

The attached provides the number of drug-related deaths mentioning these substances by sex for England and Wales, in each registration year from 2003 to 2012 (the latest year available). It is important to note that around 60% of these deaths mentioned more than one substance on the death certificate, and it is not possible to tell which was primarily responsible for the death.

Table 2 attached provides the number of drug-related deaths where one of these substances was the only substance mentioned on the death certificate by sex for England and Wales, in each registration year from 2003 to 2012 (the latest year available).

More information on how to interpret data on drug-related deaths can be found in the bulletin 'Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales, 2012' available on the ONS website:
www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health3/deaths-related-to-drug-poisoning/2012/index.html

Special extracts and tabulations of mortality data for England and Wales are available to order (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and agreement of costs, where appropriate), and you do not need to make a Freedom of Information request. To discuss your requirements, and obtain a cost estimate, please contact the mortality team directly (mortality@ons.gsi.gov.uk).

Table 2 (60.5 Kb Excel sheet)

 

 

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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