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Drugs: Death

Volume 498: debated on Monday 2 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many deaths of persons aged (a) below 16, (b) 16, 17 and 18, (c) 19 to 25 and (d) over 25 years of age were attributed to the use of illegal drugs in the most recent year for which figures are available. (295922)

[holding answer 27 October 2009]: 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 Jil Matheson, dated October 2009:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary question asking how many deaths of persons aged (a) below 16, (b) 16, 17 and 18, (c) 19 to 25 and (d) over 25 years of age were attributed to the use of illegal drugs in the most recent year for which figures are available. (295922)

Drugs classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) are termed 'controlled substances', and unlawful possession of a controlled substance is illegal, as is possession with intent to supply. Lawful possession of a controlled substance would include when the drug was in the possession of a person it had been prescribed to. It is not possible to ascertain from information collected at death certification whether a drug was obtained lawfully or not.

The table attached provides the number of drug misuse deaths of persons aged (a) below 16, (b) 16 to 18, (c) 19 to 25 and (d) over 25 years of age, in England and Wales, for 2008 (the latest year available).

Table 1. Numbers of deaths related to drug misuse1 by age group, England and Wales2 20083

Age group

Number

Less than 16

9

16-18

25

19-25

206

Over 25

1,498

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 Box 1 below) and where a drug controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was mentioned on the death certificate.

2 Figures for England and Wales includes non-residents

3 Figures are for deaths registered in 2008.

Box 1

Description

ICD-10

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