Iceland: Leading The World In Death By Overdose (Maybe, Maybe Not) - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland: Leading The World In Death By Overdose (Maybe, Maybe Not)

Published December 2, 2015

Main photo by
Pöllö/Wikimedia Commons

New data shows Iceland in the top spot for death by drug overdose – per one million inhabitants.

According to new data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Iceland holds the dubious distinction of being Number One in the world when it comes to death by overdose.

The findings count over 211 deaths by overdose in Iceland per everyone million habitants. This puts Iceland ahead of the US (about 195 OD deaths per million), Canada (about 101 OD deaths per million) and Russia (72 OD deaths per million), the top three contenders behind Iceland.

The report also finds that 20% of adult Icelanders smoke marijuana, a higher percentage than anywhere else in the world. This claim, however, is questionable.

As reported in July 2014, the percentage of Icelanders who smoke marijuana was miscalculated. A report from the Directorate of Health done in 2012, from which the UN drew their conclusions, does show that the percentage of Icelanders who have tried cannabis at least once in their lives has increased – from 24.7% in 2004 to 35.9% in 2012. This 35.9% who had tried cannabis once in their lives were then asked if they had tried it at least once in the 12 months previous. Of those, 81.7% said they had not.

This result led the UN study to conclude that 18.3% of Icelanders as a whole had smoked cannabis in 2012. In fact, the correct math would put the number of Icelanders who tried cannabis that year at 6.6%, taking Iceland down from its number one slot for cannabis use to the 29th position.

This being the case, it is possible the UN’s calculations for death by overdose in Iceland may have also been overestimated.

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