The most recent data show an upward trend in overdose deaths within the territory of the European Union. Germany has become the country with the most drug-related deaths within the EU, recording 1,826 deaths in 2021, according to the report “European Drug Report 2023: Trends and Developments,” published last Friday. This represents an increase of 245 deaths compared to 2020. Spain ranks second, with 774 drug-related deaths in 2020, followed by Sweden, with 450 deaths in 2021.
This upward trend is reflected across the EU, where overdoses claimed the lives of 6,166 people in 2021, with an estimated death rate of 18.3 deaths per million people aged 15–64, compared with 5,796 deaths recorded in 2020.
Although data from the Lisbon-based European Drug Agency presents limitations, it is estimated that in 74% of reported cases of lethal overdose, the substances consumed were opioids, including heroin and its metabolites, often in combination with other substances. Many deaths related to drugs such as amphetamines and methamphetamines were also reported.
Among the 21 countries with autopsy data available for 2021, 19 reported deaths from drug use other than cocaine, with Germany having the highest number of cases (348), followed by Turkey (184), Finland (49), Norway (47), Austria (41), Sweden (36), and Denmark (35).
In addition, a dramatic increase was observed over the last decade in overdose deaths among people aged 50–64 years: deaths increased by 69% between 2012 and 2021, by 31% among women, and by 86% among men.