Opioid-related deaths in Europe: Strategies for a comprehensive approach to address a major public health concern.

Publication date: Dec 16, 2019

Use of illicit opioids and misuse of prescription opioids are the main causes of drug-related deaths across the world, and the continuing rise in opioid-related mortality, especially affecting North America, Australia and Europe, is a public health challenge. Strategies that may help to decrease the high levels of opioid-related mortality and morbidity and improve care across Europe include risk assessment and interventions to improve the use of opioid analgesics, e.g. prescription drug-monitoring programmes, education on pain management to reduce opioid prescribing, and the implementation of evidence-based primary prevention programmes to reduce the demand for opioids. For patients who develop opioid use disorder (a chronic and relapsing problematic use of opioids that causes clinical impairment or distress), treatment combining opiate receptor full or partial agonist medications for opioid-use disorder (MOUD) with psychosocial interventions is essential. However, in Europe a substantial proportion of the 1.3 million high-risk opioid users (defined as injecting drug use or regular use of opioids, mainly heroin) remain outside of dedicated treatment programmes. More widespread and easier access to MOUD could reduce mortality levels; via approaches such as primary care-led treatment models, and efforts to improve patient retention and adherence to treatment programmes. Other harm-reduction strategies, such as the use of MOUD at optimal doses, the provision of take-home naloxone, the introduction of supervised drug-consumption facilities, and patient education to reduce the risk of overdose may also be beneficial.

Alho, H., Dematteis, M., Lembo, D., , Maremmani, Roncero, C., and Somaini, L. Opioid-related deaths in Europe: Strategies for a comprehensive approach to address a major public health concern. 04387. 2019 Int J Drug Policy (76):

Concepts Keywords
Analgesics Pain management
Australia Drugs
Europe Psychoactive drugs
Harm Reduction RTT
Heroin Morphinans
Morbidity Opioids
Mortality Morphine
Naloxone Drug culture
North America Opioid use disorder
Opiate Receptor Naloxone
Opioid Drug overdose
Opioids Pain management
Overdose Heroin
Pain Management
Partial Agonist
Prescription Drug
Primary Care
Primary Prevention
Risk Assessment


Type Source Name
drug DRUGBANK Diamorphine
drug DRUGBANK Naloxone
disease MESH Death


Original Article

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *