Drug-Related Mortality,Arizona, 1985-1995: Methods and Sources

This report is to provide information on drug-related mortality among Arizona residents. The data for 1995 are placed in a temporal context by comparison with the data for the preceding ten years.

Data on the number and characteristics of drug-related deaths among Arizona residents were obtained from the death certificates filed with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Population denominators for Arizona residents, used to calculate rates, are projections from the Population Statistics Unit in the Arizona Department of Economic Security (data for 1985-1989 and 1993-1995) and the U.S. Census Bureau (data for 1990). Detailed population data by gender, age and county were unavailable for 1991-1992. In order to obtain the population denominators for these two years, the 1990 percentages of population breakdowns (or census shares) were applied to 1991 and 1992 total state or county population estimates published by the DES.

In this report, drug-related fatalities are classified in terms of circumstances and conditions resulting in death, such as drug dependence and drug abuse, suicide by drugs, homicide by drugs, accidents in the use of drugs (such as accidental overdose or wrong substance given or taken in error), adverse effects of drugs in therapeutic or prophylactic dosage, and poisoning by drugs, where it was undetermined whether it was unintentionally or purposely inflicted. Whenever possible, drug-related deaths are classified also in terms of type of drug causing fatal poisoning, such as cocaine, morphine, barbiturates, non-barbiturate sedatives and tranquilizers, antidepressants, hallucinogens, psychostimulants, as well as other, mixed and unspecified drugs. A detailed cross-classification by these two dimensions of the ICD codes relevant to drug-related mortality is given below.

Originally, this report was designed to provide data on poisoning by misuse of, abuse of, or dependence on selected medications other than alcohol and tobacco. Previous editions excluded poisoning by antibiotics, vaccines and non-psychoactive agents which primarily affect blood constituents, cardiovascular system, skeletal muscles or respiratory system. For comparability with national data, the definition of drug-related deaths was revised* in 1994 to include all categories of medications.

In addition to annual mortality rates, the report also provides multi-year average annual rates by ethnic group, age group, type of drug, marital status, gender and county of residence. Nine-year summary rates, calculated for the entire period 1986-1994, provide a more accurate description when the number of events is small and/or events occur in small populations. These rates are shown in Figures 3-11, as well as in Table 8 and Tables 14-18.

Circumstances and Conditions Resulting in Death Cocaine Typea Morphine Typeb Barbiturates, Tranquilizers &Other Psychotropic Agentsc Other, Mixed and Unspecified
Drug Dependence and Drug Abused 304.2, 305.6 304.0, 304.7, 305.5 292.1, 304.1, 304.3-304.5, 304.8, 305.2-305.4, 305.7-305.8 292.0, 292.2, 292.8-292.9, 304.6, 304.9, 305.9
Accidental Drug Misuse/Unintentional Poisoning by Drugse 855.2, 938.5 850.0, 935.0 851-855.1 855.3-855.9, 937.0-938.4, 938.6-941.9 850.01-850.9 856-858 930-934 935.1-396.4 942-949
Suicidal Poisoning NO ICD-9 CODES NO ICD-9 CODES 950.1-950.3 950.0, 950.4-950.5
Homicidal Poisoning NO ICD-9 CODES NO ICD-9 CODES NO ICD-9 CODES 962.0
Poisoning Undetermined Whether Accidentally or Purposely Inflicted NO ICD-9 CODES NO ICD-9 CODES 980.1-980.3 980.0, 980.4-980.5

a Cocaine leaves and derivatives.

b Heroin, methadone, opium and combinations of morphine type with any other drug.

c Barbiturates, non-barbiturate sedatives and tranquilizers, antidepressants, hallucinogens, psychostimulants.

d Organic psychotic conditions and non-psychotic mental disorders associated with intake of drugs. Includes:

e Includes drugs and medicaments causing adverse effects in therapeutic use (ICD E930-E949).


See: Drug-Related Mortality, Arizona, 1987-1993. Phoenix: Arizona Department of Health Services 1994.

Public Health Services
Office of Health Planning, Evaluation and Statistics
Arizona Center for Health Statistics
Phone: 602/542-7333; FAX: 602/542-1244