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Drugs: Misuse

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he holds on the number of people aged 18 years or under who died as a direct or indirect result of abusing (a) cannabis, (b) cocaine, (c) ecstasy, (d) alcohol, (e) crystal methadone and (f) prescription drugs in (i) 2007 and (ii) 1997. (231945)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated November 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what information is held on the number of people aged 18 years or under who died as a direct or indirect result of abusing (a) cannabis, (b) cocaine, (c) ecstasy, (d) alcohol, (e) crystal methadone and (f) prescription drugs in (i) 2007 and (ii) 1997. (231945)

Table 1 attached shows the number of deaths of persons aged 18 years or under for which the underlying cause was drug poisoning and (a) cannabis, (b) cocaine or (c) ecstasy was mentioned on the death certificate either alone or together with other substances.

The common term (e) ‘crystal meth’ refers to methylamphetamine, an amphetamine, rather than to methadone, an opiate. Table 1 also includes figures for drug poisoning deaths mentioning amphetamines (other than ecstasy) or methadone. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of drug poisoning deaths by substance where the person died as an indirect result of abusing drugs.

The National Statistics definition of alcohol-related deaths only includes those causes regarded as being most directly due to alcohol consumption. It does not include external causes of death such as road traffic accidents, other accidents or violence, where alcohol may have been a contributory cause. Table 2 attached shows the number of deaths of persons aged 18 years or under where (d) an alcohol-related cause was the underlying cause of death or was mentioned as a contributory factor on the death certificate. Figures in all cases are provided for (i) 2007 and (ii) 1997.

ONS data on drug-related deaths identify all substances which were mentioned on the death record. However, since in some cases the same substance could be prescribed, bought legally, or obtained illegally, it is not possible to ascertain which deaths were due to (f) prescription drugs.

Table 1. Number of deaths attributed to drug poisoning where cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, any other amphetamine, or methadone was mentioned on the death certificate, persons aged 18 years and under, England and Wales, 1997 and 20071,2

Deaths (persons)

1997

2007

Cannabis

1

0

Cocaine

0

4

Ecstasy

5

4

Amphetamines (other than Ecstasy)

6

1

Methadone

34

7

1 Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Deaths were included where the underlying cause was due to drug poisoning (shown in the following table) and where cannabis, cocaine, any amphetamine, ecstasy or methadone was mentioned on the death certificate.

2 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

Cause of death

ICD-10 code(s)

Mental and behavioural disorders due to drug use (excluding alcohol and tobacco)

F11–F16, F18–F19

Accidental poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances

X40–X44

Intentional self-poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances

X60–X64

Assault by drugs, medicaments and biological substances

X85

Poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances, undetermined intent

Y10–Y14

Table 2. Number of deaths where an alcohol-related cause was mentioned on the death certificate, persons aged 18 years and under, England and Wales, 1997 and 20071, 2

Deaths (persons)

1997

2007

Underlying cause of death

13

2

Mentioned as contributory factor

38

30

1 Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) for 1997, and Tenth Revision (ICD-10) for 2007. The specific causes of death categorised as alcohol-related, and their corresponding ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes, are shown in the following table.

2 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

Box 1. Alcohol-related causes of death - International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9)

Cause of death

ICD-9 code(s)

Alcoholic psychoses

291

Alcohol dependence syndrome

303

Non-dependent abuse of alcohol

305.0

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

425.5

Alcoholic fatty liver

571.0

Acute alcoholic hepatitis

571.1

Alcoholic cirrhosis of liver

571.2

Alcoholic liver damage, unspecified

571.3

Chronic hepatitis

571.4

Cirrhosis of liver without mention of alcohol

571.5

Other chronic nonalcoholic liver disease

571.8

Unspecified chronic liver disease without mention of alcohol

571.9

Accidental poisoning by alcohol

E860

Box 2. Alcohol-related causes of death - International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10)

Cause of death

ICD-10 code(s)

Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol

F10

Degeneration of nervous system due to alcohol

G31.2

Alcoholic polyneuropathy

G62.1

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

I42.6

Alcoholic gastritis

K29.2

Alcoholic liver disease

K70

Chronic hepatitis, not elsewhere classified

K73

Fibrosis and cirrhosis of liver (excl. Biliary cirrhosis)

K74 (excl. K74.3-K74.5)

Alcohol induced chronic pancreatitis

K86.0

Accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol

X45

Intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to alcohol

X65

Poisoning by and exposure to alcohol, undetermined intent

Y15