Norway 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 2016, the Cause of Death Register reported a stabilisation in the number of drug-induced deaths compared with 2014 and 2015. The majority of deaths occurred in males. In recent years, there has been an increase in the age of those dying as a result of overdoses in Norway, and in 2016 the average age at time of death was 44 years. All 19 counties registered at least one overdose death in 2016, with the two biggest cities, Oslo and Bergen, accounting for the highest numbers. The main intoxicant in drug-related deaths was ‘other opioids’, such as the prescription opioids morphine and oxycodone (36 %), surpassing heroin as the most common opioid in overdose deaths.

In Norway, the latest average drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15-64 years) was 75 deaths per million in 2016. Considering developments between 2003 and 2016, and the gradual population growth during the observed period, the trend is considered stable or slightly decreasing in terms of rate per capita. 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.

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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.