The National Drug-Related Deaths Index will include people who die directly, and indirectly, from drugs.
“The register will provide an accurate estimate of people who die directly from drugs and an accurate estimate of people who die as a result of the consequences of drug use,” said Dr Jean Long of the Drug Misuse Research Division of the Health Research Board.
She said these include deaths from infectious diseases resulting from drug use and cardiovascular deaths from drugs such as cocaine.
She said the data would allow policy makers to target those drug users who were more likely to die.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State at the Department of Health Sean Power said: “In many cases, the connection between drug use and death may not be either identified or recorded. A death resulting from an infectious disease contracted through drug misuse, for example, may not feature in the current figures.”