Deaths from drug toxicity among the population aged 30 and over in British Columbia have increased by almost 50% since 2019

The illicit drug crisis in British Columbia has not been kind to people between the ages of 30 and 39.

According to the BC Coroners Service, the number of substance abuse deaths in this demographic has almost doubled, from 274 in 2019 to 539 last year.

In an interview with Vista Radio, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe noted that if this public health emergency has taught us anything, it’s that all age groups are equally vulnerable when using these substances.

“The toxic drug supply doesn’t discriminate on how much money you make or what kind of house you live in. This is an absolutely dangerous time for people who use substances and it doesn’t there really aren’t a lot of options for people who are addicted to drugs.”

“It’s just a chaotic cocktail right now because the only motivation for those creating these products is to make money. It’s not about the well-being of the people in our communities.

All age categories in our province saw an increase in overdose-related deaths in 2021 – none more so than those aged 50 to 59, who rose from 405 deaths in 2020 to 554 last year.

This age group also has the highest death rate in the province at 77.3 per 100,000 people.

British Columbia had a record 2,224 drug overdose deaths last year, including 146 at Northern Health, which was also an all-time high.

When asked if 2022 could be as bad or worse for illicit drug deaths, Lapointe said that was a distinct possibility if the status quo remained the same.

“If we continue to do the things that we have traditionally done, which is to stigmatize people, arrest them and shame them while continuing to ensure that they are dependent on a toxic supply, based solely on profit, then nothing will change and we will continue to lose. members of our community.

The coroners’ service noted that Northern Health has the second-highest drug toxicity rate among B.C.’s five health authorities, at 44.8 per 100,000 population.

Only Vancouver Coastal ranked higher with a score of 49.2.

Simply put, the impact of this public health emergency is hitting every corner of the province.

“The drug trade has been a terrible scourge in our communities. There are parts of our cities where the drug trade is free, nobody wants that and it doesn’t benefit anybody but somebody who lives somewhere in a really nice house and makes millions of dollars out of that misery added Lapointe.

A recent study by the BC Center for Disease Control examined the drug preferences of residents of the province and showed that of 621 people surveyed at harm reduction supply distribution sites, nearly 58% had a preference for heroin.

Research epidemiologist Max Ferguson noted that people in Northern Health reported the highest percentages of preference for heroin at around 81%.

However, when it comes to drug-related deaths, heroin is no longer on the black market map.

“There is virtually no heroin left in our province. Availability on the black market is very, very limited because fentanyl is much cheaper and easier for drug dealers to bring in, manufacture and distribute,” Lapointe added.

“Heroin actually comes from poppy plants and they have to be grown and they have to be harvested. Fentanyl is a lab-made chemical and I use the term lab loosely. It’s much simpler to make . »

Fentanyl was detected in 83% of samples tested in 2021. Carfentanil was present in 187 results, almost triple the number recorded in 2020 (66).

Additionally, 50% of December samples tested positive for etizolam, more than three times the detection rate in July 2020 (15%). Benzodiazepines create significant challenges for rescue efforts because naloxone does not reverse its effects.

with files from staff Brody Langager

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