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Facts & Stats




Globally, there is an estimated minimum of 190,000 – in most cases avoidable – premature deaths from drugs, the majority attributable to the use of opioids.

Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘2017 World Drug Report’.



Drug-related deaths in Asia are tentative because of poor regional coverage and reporting of mortality data. However, it is estimated that there were between 13,600 and 100,700 deaths in 2013.

Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’ 2015 World Drug Report’.



In 2013, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition observed:

‘With only a few provinces actively reporting overdose fatalities, it is difficult to gauge the extent of opioid related overdose deaths and injuries across Canada. What we do know is that prescription opioid related deaths have risen sharply and are estimated to be about 50 percent of annual drug deaths.’

Source: Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, ‘Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response in Canada’

In May 2016 the British Columbia Coroners Service released the number of illicit drug overdose deaths that occurred in B.V between January 1, 2007 and April 30, 2016.

They found that there were 480 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in 2015, a 31.1 per cent increase in deaths from 2014 (366 deaths).

In 2015 the illicit overdose death rate increased to 10.2 deaths per 100,000 population. Similar rates were previously seen in 1998 (10.0 deaths) and 1993 (9.9 deaths)

There were 76 deaths in January 2016; the largest number of deaths in a single month for the examined period (2007 to 2016).

Preliminary data suggest that the proportion of illicit drug overdose deaths for which fentanyl was detected increased to 49 per cent in the first three months of 2016.

Source:  British Columbia Coroners Service, ‘Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC’,



In 2015 China gave it’s first-ever assessment of the human impact of drug overdose, saying there were as many as 49,000 deaths in 2014.

Source: Business Insider, June 24, 2015.


England and Wales

There were 3,674 drug poisoning deaths registered in England and Wales in 2015, the highest since comparable records began in 1993.

Deaths involving heroin and/or morphine doubled in the last 3 years to 1,201 in 2015, and are now the highest on record.

Deaths involving cocaine reached an all time high in 2015 where there were 320 deaths – up from 247 deaths in 2014.

People aged 30 to 39 had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse (98.4 deaths per million population), followed by people aged 40 to 49 (95.1 deaths per million).

Source: Office of National Statistics, ‘Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales: 2015 registrations’


It is estimated that more than 70,000 lives were lost to drug overdoses in European Union countries in the first decade of the 21st Century.

Source: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, ’Perspectives on Drugs: Preventing overdose deaths in Europe’.

In 2014 it is estimated that at least 6,800 overdoses deaths occurred in the European Union. For 2014, the mortality rate due to overdoses in Europe is estimated at 18.3 deaths per million population aged 15-64. Rates of over 40 deaths per million were reported in 8 countries, with the highest rates reported in Estonia (113 per million), Sweden (93 per million) and Ireland (71 per million).

Source: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, ‘European Drug Report 2016’.



Oceania, which includes Australia and New Zealand, has a higher than average drug mortality rate. The UNODC said there were between 1,700 and 2,100 drug-related deaths in 2013.

Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘2015 World Drug Report’.



There were 706 drug-related deaths in 2015. This was the highest number recorded since the series of figures began in 1996, and was 370 more than in 2005.

Source: National Records of Scotland, Drug-related Deaths in Scotland in 2015


South America and Latin America

Countries in South America, the Caribbean and Central America reported between 4,900 and 10,900 drug-related deaths in 2013, with a mortality rate well below the global average.

Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘2015 World Drug Report’.


United States

The United States accounts for approximately one quarter of the estimated number of drug-related deaths worldwide, including overdose deaths, which continue to rise. Mostly driven by opioids, overdose deaths in the united States more than tripled during the period 1999-2015, from 16,849 to 52,404 annually.

Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘2017 World Drug Report’.


In January 2017 the Center for Disease Control has estimated that the number of people in the USA who had died from overdosed in the 12 month period prior to January 2017 was 64,070.

Source: The Center for Disease Control ‘Provisional Counts of Drug Overdose deaths, as of 8/6/2017’.


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