Fentanyl overdose crisis

British Columbia’s coroner’s latest update on the overdose crisis for July has been released and reveals that at least 192 lives were lost in BC from toxic drug use. 

Street drugs being increasingly toxic is the main cause of these overdose deaths. 

In the first few months of 2020, the fentanyl concentration of illicit drug deaths was between 4% and 8%. In July of 2022, this statistic was 23%.

“That is why we continue to expand much-needed harm-reduction services, particularly safe supply and inhalation overdose prevention sites,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in a media release.

“There is more to do. I am committed to continuing to expand and evolve our government’s response to this public-health emergency to turn the tide and save lives.”

Malcolmson met with municipal leaders last week from throughout the province to discuss tools and strategies that local governments have been able to use to aid the poisoned-drug crisis, and help to prevent the loss of life.

According to the BC Coroners Service, the 192 lives lost in July are a notable increase (31%) from June 2022’s 147 deaths. This statistic amounts to approximately 6.2 deaths per day from toxic drug supply. 

“Families and communities across the province are continuing to suffer the sudden and tragic deaths of loved ones due to toxic drugs,” said Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe in a media release. “Whether they are chronically substance-dependent or using only occasionally, all of those who access the illicit drug market are vulnerable to serious harm.”

“The subject-matter experts on the recent death review panel urgently recommended significant expansion of safer supply in communities throughout the province in order to reduce the devastation caused by this public-health crisis.”

The toxic drug supply is the leading cause of unnatural death right now in BC. So far at least 10,158  British Columbians have lost their lives to illicit drugs since the substance-related harm public-health emergency was first declared in April 2016. 

It is important to note that at supervised consumption sites, where illicit drugs can be tested to ensure safety, no deaths have occurred. 

This statistic comes only 15 days after BC recognized International Drug Overdose Day on August 31st. 

Victoria recognized the importance of the day with free, public Naloxone training, purple ribbons to be worn in remembrance of those lost, a rally at Centennial Square and a vigil held at the BC Legislature. 

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