APH 2006, 64, 185-197:
Drug-related Deaths in Belgium,
G. Jossels, F. Sartor
Keywords: mortality, illegal drugs, regions
Objective: To gain insight in the characteristics of drug-related
mortality in Belgium at national level.
Method: The EMCDDA “Selection B” is applied to the general
mortality registers of 1987 through 1997, retrieving 890 drug-related
deaths. Univariate and multivariate methods (Poisson regression) are
used to analyse these data.
Results: The analyses reveal a sudden rise in drug-related mortality
in 1993. This rise could be partly due to an improvement of the death
certification quality. Almost three out of four drug-related deaths occur
among men. In more than 90% of the cases where the substances
involved are mentioned on the death certificate, opiates are involved.
Among people aged 65 years or older, a lot of drug-related deaths are
observed (mostly women) with “nondependent abuse of drugs – other,
mixed or unspecified” mentioned as the cause of death. This suggests
that the corresponding “Selection B”-code might extract deaths that are
not due to illicit substances. The difference between the regions is remarkable: the Walloon Region accounts for the most drug-related
deaths. However, additional analyses put this difference into perspective.
The determinants of drug-related deaths are found to be gender, age and
the region of residence.
Conclusion: The reason for the sudden increase of drug-related
mortality remains unclear, although an increase of certification quality
can be suggested. The lack of recent data at national level remains a
major problem for public health policies.