Making Sense of Differing Overdose Mortality: Contributions to Improved Understanding of European PatternsWaal H.a, b · Gossop M.a, c
aCentre for Addiction Research (SERAF), University of Oslo, and bClinic for Psychiatry and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway; cKing's College London, National Addiction Centre, London, UK
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The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA, publishes statistics for overdose deaths giving a European mean number, and ranking nations in a national ‘league table' for overdose deaths. The interpretation of differing national levels of mortality is more problematic and more complex than is usually recognised. Different systems are used to compile mortality data and this causes problems for cross-national comparisons. Addiction behaviour can only be properly understood within its specific social and environmental ecology. Risk factors for overdose, such as the type of drug consumed, and the route of administration, are known to differ across countries. This paper describes problems associated with ranking and suggests how mortality data might be used in high-level countries aiming at reduction in the number of overdose deaths.
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