Drug cri­sis hits new heights

OVER­DOSES HAVE AL­READY KILLED MORE PEO­PLE THIS YEAR THAN LAST

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS WEATHER - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — VIC­TO­RIA

More peo­ple died from il­licit drug over­doses in Bri­tish Columbia in the first eight months of this year than all of 2016.

The coroner’s ser­vice says the 1,013 peo­ple who died from over­doses from Jan­uary to the end of Au­gust sur­passes a record 982 deaths last year.

The lat­est fig­ures for 2017 show fen­tanyl was de­tected ei­ther alone or with an­other drug in more than 80 per cent of the deaths. In 2012, fen­tanyl was de­tected in just four per cent of over­dose deaths.

The prov­ince de­clared a state of emer­gency last year and took a num­ber of steps to try and re­duce the num­ber of over­doses.

Chief coroner Lisa La­pointe says the in­crease in deaths high­lights the com­plex is­sues of drug de­pen­dency.

“It’s heart­break­ing to see the con­tin­ued high num­bers of deaths through­out the prov­ince de­spite nu­mer­ous ini­tia­tives and harm-re­duc­tion mea­sures in place,” La­pointe said in a news re­lease.

“We also need peo­ple to know that no il­licit sub­stance in this prov­ince can be con­sid­ered safe, whether you know your dealer or not.”

She said any­one us­ing il­licit drugs needs to be pre­pared for an over­dose and have some­one with them who is will­ing to help.

As part of the state of emer­gency, B.C. launched a take home nalox­one pro­gram, pro­vid­ing train­ing in over­dose preven­tion to those who were sus­cep­ti­ble. The over­dose re­vers­ing drug was also made avail­able at phar­ma­cies around the prov­ince.

The sta­tis­tics show 91 per cent of those who have died this year were aged 19 to 59. Four out of five peo­ple who died were men.

The coroner’s ser­vice says there were no deaths at su­per­vised con­sump­tion or drug-over­dose preven­tion sites.

The fig­ures say most of those who died, about 89 per cent, were in­side a pri­vate home or other in­door lo­ca­tion, while 11 per cent of the deaths oc­curred in ve­hi­cles or out­side.

The sta­tis­tics show that fen­tanyl, a pow­er­ful pain killer, ap­pears to ac­count for the in­crease in over­dose deaths since 2012 be­cause the deaths where the drug is not in­volved have re­mained sta­ble at around 300 per year.

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