Italy Country Drug Report 2019

Drug-induced deaths

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

In 2017, the special register (Police Forces and Prefectures) reported an increase of 10 % in the number of drug-induced deaths in Italy. The substances involved in the deaths were not indicated in one quarter of deaths. For the remaining cases, where toxicological results were available, opioids, alone or in combination with other psychoactive substances were detected in the majority of deaths. Opioid deaths mainly involved heroin, although there were some reports of methadone. In 2017, the first death in Italy attributed to the use of fentanyl (U-47700) was reported. Cocaine was detected in a significant minority of deaths. A large majority of drug-induced death victims were male, with a mean age of 39 years.

The General Mortality Register (GMR), managed by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), provides additional data. The GMR reports that, in 2015, there were 251 deaths attributed to an initial drug-related cause, similar to the number reported in 2014 (263 cases).

The estimated drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15-64 years) is eight deaths per million, which is lower than the most recent European average of 22 deaths per million.

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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.