Overdose crisis in British Columbia: the province is approaching the death record

Dozens more British Columbians died of toxic substances in August, according to the province’s latest overdose data, bringing the total number of deaths reported in the first eight months of the year to a record high. .

A BC Coroners Service report, released Wednesday, found that 169 people died of suspected overdoses in August. This represents an average of about 5.5 deaths per day.

The August figures, which are subject to change as further surveys are carried out, mark a 12% decrease in deaths from the previous month and a 14% decrease from August 2021.

So far this year, 1,468 toxic drug deaths have been reported to the provincial coroner. The record for the first eight months of the year – reported in 2021 – is just one more at 1,469.

« The illicit drug market continues to pose immense risks to the people of our province, » Lisa Lapointe, British Columbia’s Chief Coroner, said in a statement.

“Residents in communities across British Columbia continue to lose friends, family and colleagues to the unprecedented toxicity of the unregulated drug supply. I offer my sincere condolences to all who mourn the loss of a loved one.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said the province is « offering innovative harm reduction solutions. »

“We are also the only province in Canada to decriminalize people who use drugs, so we can eliminate the stigma and shame associated with substance use. We agree that addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue, » she said in a statement.

Preliminary data from the province shows the highest number of deaths so far this year have been reported in the province’s most populous health regions: Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health. Together, these two regions account for 59% of overdose deaths in British Columbia in 2022.

However, Northern Health has the highest rate of overdose deaths with 52 deaths per 100,000 population. By comparison, the rate is 48 per 100,000 at Vancouver Coastal Health.

Other health authorities are not immune to the crisis either. Over the weekend in Kelowna, which is part of the Interior Health Authority, five people died from overdoses in nine hours.

After announcing the deaths, local police advised drug addicts to go to supervised consumption sites, avoid using alone, test their drugs and take the overdose reversal drug naloxone with them. .

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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