Trends in opiate-related deaths in the United Kingdom and Australia, 1985-1995

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2000 Jan 1;57(3):247-54. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(99)00057-5.


This paper compares data on rates of opiate overdose mortality in the UK and Australia between 1985 and 1995. Data on rates of ICD 9-coded overdose mortality were obtained from the Office of National Statistics in the UK and from the Australian Bureau of Statistics mortality register. The proportion of all deaths attributed to opioid overdose increased in both countries between 1985 and 1995. The proportion of all deaths attributed to opioid overdose was substantially higher in Australia than in the UK, but methadone appeared to contribute to more opioid overdose deaths in the UK (50%) than in Australia (18%). Given deficiencies in the available data, the reasons for these differences between the two countries are uncertain but a plausible hypothesis is that the greater availability and ease of access to methadone maintenance in the UK contributes to both the lower rate of opioid overdose mortality and the greater apparent contribution that methadone makes to opioid overdose deaths in that country.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Overdose / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Methadone / poisoning
  • Narcotics / poisoning*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Narcotics
  • Methadone