Overdose crisis in BC is getting worse, says government

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From January to August of this year, 34 people in the northern region have died from fentanyl-detected deaths, 20 of which were in the Northern Interior. And there are still four more months this year to be reported on.

The suspected number of illicit drug overdose deaths for the year to date is now 1,013, up from 547 at this time in 2016.

Preliminary data indicates there were 113 suspected drug overdose deaths in August, a number that works out to more than three-and-a-half deaths per day.

Four out of five people who died from suspected illicit drug overdoses were men, and 75 per cent of deaths involved people between the ages of 30 and 59 years.

"There were 113 suspected drug overdose deaths in August 2017", the report detailed.

The worsening overdose crisis led the BC Centre on Substance Use to release guidelines on injection opioid treatment earlier this week.

Over four-fifths of the deaths in 2017 remain fentanyl related. In 2016 fentanyl-related deaths were also the most prevalent.

Over 80% (823) of the suspected illicit drug deaths to date in 2017 had fentanyl detected, representing an increase of 151% over the same period in 2016.

Lapointe said it's important for people to know that no illicit substance in the province can be considered safe, whether you know the dealer or not.

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Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health remain the two health authorities with the highest number of deaths - 335 and 306, respectively.

Those numbers were released Thursday morning on by the BC Coroners Service, which noted that overdose drug deaths in B.C. had already exceeded last year's totals by August's end.

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

Men continue to be the overwhelming majority of those who die of illicit opioid overdose related deaths.

In Vernon, 16 people have died so far in 2017 compared to 12 in 2016.

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority has the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths (38.9 deaths per 100,000 individuals) and also experienced the largest increase in rate from 2016 (63% increase) among all the health authorities.

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.

Lapointe reiterated that most overdose fatalities have happened when people are alone and unable to get help.

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