Direct drug-related deaths - Assessment of their number in France and recent developments



Tendances n° 133, OFDT, 8 p.
July 2019

The epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in the United States highlights the issue of drug-related deaths. In response to the crisis on the other side of the Atlantic, the public authorities are mobilising in France and Europe to prevent any developments that could lead to this kind of situation. Beyond this specific concern, reducing these premature and preventable deaths, even when they appear to be fewer in number than in other countries, remains a major challenge for public policy in the field of drugs. In this context, it seems more necessary than ever to assess the number of deaths related to illicit drugs and opioid medications (substitution medecines or analgesics) in France.

What data is available? What are the limitations? What trends are emerging? These issues were already addressed in Tendances in 2010. At that time, drug-related deaths were still fully assimilated with overdose deaths by drug users. The concern today is also the deaths of people who have been prescribed opioids to treat pain. This issue of Tendances is an update on direct drug-related deaths, as well as an update on their variation in numbers up to 2015-2017. It also explores possible explanations for these variations.

Authors : Anne-Claire Brisacier, Christophe Palle, Michel Mallaret

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