Number of deaths related to drug poisoning, England & Wales
There were 2,445 deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2003. This was the lowest number since 1994 and continued the downward trend from a peak of 2,967 deaths in 2000.
This decline mainly reflects changes in the mortality for drug poisoning among males. Female numbers have been relatively stable over the last 11 years. The decline in male drug poisoning deaths was mainly seen in deaths with an underlying cause of death of ‘mental and behavioural disorders due to drug use’.
This overall decline in 2003 occurred despite an increase in the number of deaths involving antidepressants and paracetamol. There was a dramatic fall in the number of deaths involving heroin to 591 deaths in 2003 from a peak of 926 deaths in 2000. The number of deaths involving methadone continued to decrease (175 deaths in 2003) and was at its lowest level since 1993. There was also a fall in the number of deaths involving cocaine and amphetamines (including ecstasy).
Between 1993 and 2003, there was an increase in the contribution of drugs of misuse to the overall number of deaths involving drugs. Deaths involving drugs of misuse accounted for 57 per cent of all deaths related to drug poisoning in 2003 compared with 38 per cent in 1993.
The highest rates for drug-misuse deaths were seen in the 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 age-groups in both sexes although rates for females were much lower than for males in most age-groups. In 2003, the rates decreased in these age-groups for both sexes but increased in those aged 50 and over.
Source: Office for National Statistics
Notes: Drugs of misuse are drugs which are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This includes Class A, B and C drugs.