Drug addict deaths in the Nordic countries: a study based on medicolegally examined cases in the five Nordic countries in 1991

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Anni Steentoft, Brita Teige, Per Holmgren, Erkki Vuori, Jakob Kristinsson, Elisabet Kaa, Grete Wethe, Gunnel Ceder, Jarmo Pikkarainen, Kirsten Wiese Simonsen

The study includes medicolegally examined deaths among drug addicts in 1991 in the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. A common definition of ‘drug addict’ was applied by the participating countries. The greatest number of drug addict deaths per 105 inhabitants was observed in Denmark followed, in descending order by Norway, Sweden, Finland and finally Iceland with only four deaths. The main difference between the countries was found in the number of fatal poisonings. The distribution according to geographical regions showed that about half of all drug addict deaths occurred in the metropolitan areas. Of the capitals, the greatest number of fatal poisonings per 105 inhabitants was seen in Oslo, followed by Copenhagen with a similar number, Stockholm with only the half, and Helsinki with a quarter. Heroin/morphine dominated as cause of death in fatal poisonings in Norway and Sweden. In Denmark, heroin/morphine caused about half of the fatal poisonings only, and nearly one third of the fatal poisonings was caused by methadone. Except for two cases in Sweden, methadone deaths were not seen in the other Nordic countries. Amphetamine caused one tenth of the fatal poisonings in Sweden. In Finland only one tenth of the deaths were caused by heroin/morphine and more by codeine, ethylmorphine and different drugs and poisons not classified in Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 or the International Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971. A widespread use of alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazepines, diazepam especially, was seen in all the countries.

Original languageEnglish
JournalForensic Science International
Volume77
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
ISSN0379-0738
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 1996

ID: 46384996