An updated report on illicit drug overdose and fentanyl-related deaths in British Columbia shows significant progress has been made on reducing these fatalities this year.
According to an updated BC Coroners Service report based on data up to the end of March 2019, the monthly average number of illicit drug-related deaths for the first quarter of the year is 89 deaths per month.
- BC drug overdose deaths are on the decline in 2019
- UVic drug analysis program aims to help Victoria harm reduction sites prevent overdoses
This is 32% fewer deaths compared to the same period of time last year when the average was 132 deaths per month.
Out of the 268 total drug overdose deaths in BC so far this year, 13 of them occurred in Victoria, compared to 72 in Vancouver and 33 in Surrey.
Further study indicates that over two-thirds of the illicit drug-related deaths that have occurred this year involved people aged 30 to 59, and four-out-of-five were male.
- There were nearly 1,500 drug overdose deaths in BC in 2018
- Over half of BC residents who died of drug overdoses had mental health disorders
Fentanyl or its analogues were detected in around 85% of the overdose deaths in the first quarter 2019, while 87% of cases during the same time frame in 2018 contained fentanyl.
None of these deaths occurred at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.
Illicit drug overdose is the most common cause of unnatural deaths in the province, according to the BC Coroner’s Service.
A review of cases from 2016 to 2018 has revealed that fentanyl was the most relevant cause of illicit drug overdose deaths, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine/amphetamine, and heroin.