The present study from 2002 includes medicolegally examined fatal poisonings among drug addicts in the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. A common definition "drug addict" is applied by the participating countries. The number of deaths, age, sex, place of death, main intoxicant and other drugs present in the blood are recorded in order to obtain national data, as well as comparable Nordic data and data comparable to earlier studies from 1997 and 1991. The Icelandic results are commented on separately due to the low number of cases The most fatal overdoses are seen in Norway, in both the death rate (number per 100,000 inhabitants = 8.44) and in absolute number (n = 232). The comparable figures for the other four countries are Denmark 5.43 (n = 175), Iceland 3.6 (n = 6), Finland 2.93 (n = 94) and Sweden 2.56 (n = 136). In earlier studies from 1991 and 1997, the highest death rate is seen in Denmark, with Norway as number two. Denmark is the only country where the death rate decreases from 1997 to 2002. A relatively large increase in deaths in the younger age groups(less than 30 years) is noted from 1997 to 2002, except in Denmark, where only a small increase in overdose deaths in very young people (15-19 years) is observed. Females account for 12-20% of the overdoses (three out of six deaths in Iceland). Relatively fewer deaths are recorded in the capital areas in 2002 than in 1997 and 199 1, suggesting more geographically widespread drug use in the Nordic countries Heroin/morphine is the single most frequently encountered main intoxicant, varying from 10% of the cases in Finland to 72% of the cases in Norway. Finland differs from the other countries in that a high percentage of the fatal overdoses in Finland are not caused by an illicit drug; buprenorphine, overdoses are seen, and relatively few deaths resulting from heroin are seen. Methadone is the main intoxicant in 41% of the Danish overdose cases, 15% of the Norwegian cases, 4% of the Swedish cases and none of the Finnish overdose cases, an observation probably linked to different national prescription rules for methadone The analytical screening reveals extended polydrug use. Frequently seen substances, in addition to the main intoxicant are amphetamine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), benzodiazepines and ethanol.
Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam. , 2006. Vol. 160, no 03-Feb, 148-156 p.