National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Occasional Paper

Occasional Paper

The New Baseline Definition

6. Whilst the new definition draws on data from the same sources, i.e. details from death registrations supplemented by the information described previously in paragraph 4, it differs in two significant ways from the earlier definition used by National Records of Scotland (NRS). First, for deaths where habitual drug abuse was not known or suspected, it limits inclusion to those where particular drugs are known to have been involved. Second, it includes deaths from intentional self-harm (suicides).

7. The new baseline covers the following cause of death categories (the relevant codes from the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD10), are given in brackets):

a) deaths where the underlying cause of death has been coded to the following sub-categories of 'mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use':

  1. opiods (F11);
  2. cannabinoids (F12);
  3. sedatives or hypnotics (F13);
  4. cocaine (F14);
  5. other stimulants, including caffeine (F15);
  6. hallucinogens (F16); and
  7. multiple drug use and use of other psychoactive substances (F19).

b)deaths coded to the following categories and where a drug listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) was known to be present in the body at the time of death:

  1. accidental poisoning (X40 - X44);
  2. intentional self-poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances (X60 - X64);
  3. assault by drugs, medicaments and biological substances (X85);
  4. event of undetermined intent, poisoning (Y10 - Y14).


1. Deaths coded to mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of alcohol (F10), tobacco (F17), and volatile substances (F18) have been excluded.

2. Deaths coded to opiod abuse (F11) which resulted from the injection of contaminated heroin have been excluded (more details are given in Annex A). Also excluded are deaths from AIDS where the risk factor was believed to be the sharing of needles and road traffic and other accidents which occurred under the influence of drugs.

3. Specific rules were adopted for dealing with compound analgesics which contain relatively small quantities of drugs listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act e.g. co-proxamol which contains dextropropoxyphene (more details are given in Annex A).

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