Drug deaths in first 8 months of 2017 sur­pass all of pre­vi­ous year

The Province - - NEWS -

VIC­TO­RIA — More peo­ple died from il­licit drug over­doses in B.C. 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 to 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.

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 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 statis­tics show that fen­tanyl ap­pears to ac­count for the in­crease in over­dose deaths since 2012 be­cause the deaths where the drug isn’t in­volved have re­mained sta­ble at around 300 per year.


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