Drug-related and drug misuse deaths in Northern Ireland, 2012 to 2022

Date published: 31 January 2024

A report and tables on Drug-related and drug misuse deaths in Northern Ireland, 2012-2022 were released at 9.30am today.
This report presents statistics on Northern Ireland (NI) drug-related mortality in 2022. Figures are based on deaths registered in NI that are known to be drug-related or a direct consequence of drug misuse.

Key points

  • Figures show there were 154 drug-related deaths registered in 2022. While this represents a decrease of 59 (27.7%) from the 213 drug-related deaths registered in 2021, it is important to note that registration-based figures build in delays arising from system wide processes which can drive annual fluctuations in the series.
  • Since 2012, NI has seen deaths due to drug-related causes rise by 98% from 110 to a peak of 218 in 2020 and to 213 in 2021. The 2022 total (154) represents a 40% increase on the number of drug deaths registered a decade ago.
  • The majority (82.5%) of all drug-related deaths in 2022 were classed as drug misuse deaths.
  • Of the 154 drug-related deaths registered in Northern Ireland in 2022, over two-thirds (69.5%) were men.
  • Looking at the number of deaths by age, the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups together accounted for 55.8% of all drug-related deaths in 2022.
  • Each year over half of drug-related deaths have involved an opioid. Between 2020 and 2022, an average of 118 drug-related deaths each year had an opioid mentioned on the death certificate.
  • The number of deaths where alcohol is mentioned on the death certificate of drug-related deaths has been declining over the last decade. In 2012 the proportion of drug-related deaths involving alcohol was 31.8%, falling to 17.6% in 2022.
  • Over two-thirds (68.8%) of drug-related deaths in 2022 involved two or more drugs. In contrast, in 2012 60.0% of drug-related deaths involved two or more drugs. While cocaine is not the most frequently mentioned drug on death certificates in 2022, it has emerged as the predominant substance mentioned in deaths involving only one drug in 2022, constituting 9.1% of total drug-related deaths and 35.0% of single-drug deaths.
  • Belfast LGD had the highest age-standardised rate of drug-related deaths in 2022. (14.3 deaths per 100,000 population). Drug-related and drug-misuse deaths continue to be higher in areas of highest deprivation.

The full report and tables are available from the Drug-related deaths webpage.

If you would like to receive alerts about Vital Statistics releases, please email demography@nisra.gov.uk

Share this page