BC Ambulance overdoses
Photo via bcehs.ca

Illicit drug overdoses that lead to death are on the rise in Canada, especially in B.C.

In July, for example, 134 people died from overdoses in our province alone.

“Illicit drugs continue to be the source of more than three deaths per day in B.C.,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a news release.

The B.C. Coroners Service released a report that details the conditions of 872 illicit drug death overdoses in 2016 and 2017. It gives some striking insights on those who have overdoses, and the conditions that lead to them.

Out of the 872 investigated cases, over half of the victims had a clinical mental health diagnosis, or displayed signs of mental health disorders. Roughly four in every five of these individuals also had contact with health services within the year of their death.

Only 14% of those who died of overdose lived in social or single room occupancy housing, and 9% were homeless.

The majority of people who suffered lethal overdoses, about two thirds, lived in a private residence, and just over two thirds used drugs alone.

Lapointe warns that taking drugs alone is dangerous, and prevents someone from being able to help you if something goes wrong.

“Our expanded analysis confirms that more than two-thirds of these illicit drug deaths in 2016 and 2017 involve people using alone and indoors,” said Lapointe in a news release.

“We know this leads to a higher risk for death with a toxic drug supply. We continue to urge those using substances to plan to take them in the company of someone who can provide help: administering naloxone and calling 911 for assistance.”

Fentaynl is also still present in the community, with the substance being found in just over 3 out of every 4 deaths.

In July, Victoria was one of 20 communities that was chosen to receive a special provincial grant from the Community Overdose Crisis Fund. The city’s funding is expected sometime this fall, with two more grants to be received in 2019 and 2020.

Drug Overdose Deaths Down in August

The number of drug overdose deaths in B.C. was down in August. The Coroners Service reports that there were 98 suspected drug overdose deaths, a 27% decrease from the 134 overdose fatalities in July. The number is also 20% lower than in August last year.

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