Denmark Country Drug Report 2019

Drug-induced deaths

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 Sundhedsdatastyrelsen 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, and this was followed by a rebound in 2016. Toxicological results show that opioids were the principal drug involved in drug-induced deaths.

In Denmark, drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15-64 years) was estimated at 55 deaths per million in 2016. Comparisons between countries should be undertaken with caution. The reasons for this include different reporting systems, case definitions and registration processes, as well as under-reporting in some countries.

The National Police Register constitutes the second source and collates information on all reported deaths for the purpose of post-mortem examination. In 2017, 254 drug-related deaths were recorded, slightly fewer than in 2016. The average age at death has increased over time, but it seemed to stabilise in 2017. The majority of drug-induced deaths reported through the National Police Register involved more than one psychoactive substance, suggesting that polydrug use is a common cause of death by poisoning in Denmark. The presence of opioids (primarily methadone, but also heroin and morphine) was detected in four out of five cases. Other drugs involved include cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy.

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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.