Denmark Country Drug Report 2018

Drug harms

Drug-related infectious diseases

In Denmark, notifications of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are based on diagnostic reporting following voluntary testing and are registered by the Statens Serum Institut. The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases that can be attributed to drug injecting is relatively low and has remained stable over recent years. The latest data on HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) are from 2004-08, when a study indicated that the HIV prevalence rate among PWID was 2.1 %.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains the most common drug-related infectious disease among PWID. In contrast, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is less frequently linked to drug injecting. The proportion of chronic HBV cases that can be attributed to injecting drug use has varied between 2 % and 7 % in the last decade, whereas, for chronic HCV, this proportion has varied between 56 % and 75 %. The proportion of acute HBV cases linked to injecting drug use has varied between 4 % and 42 %, and acute HCV cases have varied between 0 and 86 %. The latest data on the prevalence of HCV among PWID date back to a 2008 study that reported a rate of around 52.5 %. It is estimated that approximately one quarter of drug users are infected with HBV.


Drug-related emergencies

Drug and alcohol-related emergency data originate from the National Patient Register and refer, from 2014, to patients contacting outpatient facilities owing to acute health problems related to substance use.

In 2016, a total of 2 346 cases of poisoning with illicit substances were reported. The long-term trend indicates an overall increase in the total number of poisonings since 2007, which is mainly attributed to the increase in poisonings related to opioids other than heroin (including methadone) and stimulants (primarily amphetamine and cocaine), while a small decline in the number of heroin-related poisonings over the period 2010-16 was observed. The majority of opioid-related poisonings and one third of those who sought treatment for cocaine-related problems were aged 30 years or older, while those seeking help for other stimulant-related problems were generally younger.

Prevalence of HIV and HCV antibodies among people who inject drugs in Denmark (%)
region HCV HIV
Year of data: 2016
National : :
Sub-national : :

An emergency room in a Roskilde hospital participates in the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN Plus) project, which was established in 2013 to monitor acute drug toxicity in sentinel centres across Europe.




Drug-induced deaths and mortality

Drug-induced deaths are deaths directly attributable to the use of illicit drugs (i.e. poisonings and overdoses).

In Denmark, drug-induced deaths are recorded in the Cause of Deaths Register of the Statens Serum Institut and the National Police Register. The number of drug-induced deaths recorded in the Cause of Deaths Register in 2015 was the lowest in the last decade. The toxicological results show that opioids were the principal drug involved in drug-induced deaths. The victims are generally older than the average age of victims of drug-induced death in Europe.

The latest European average drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15-64 years) was 21.8 deaths per million. In Denmark, this rate was 49.28 deaths per million in 2015. Comparisons between countries should be undertaken with caution. Reasons include different reporting systems and case definition and registration processes, as well as under-reporting in some countries.

The National Police Register collates information on all reported deaths for the purpose of post-mortem examination. An increase was noted in the number of direct drug poisonings reported through the register in 2016 compared with 2015. The majority of the poisoning deaths reported through the National Police Register involved more than one psychoactive substance, which indicates that polydrug use is a common cause of death by poisoning in Denmark. Nevertheless, the presence of opioids (heroin, morphine or methadone) was detected in four out of five cases.


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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.