Drug toxicity deaths continue to break records in British Columbia

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Posted: December 21, 2020

Drug toxicity deaths continue to break records in British Columbia

In the midst of the double public health emergency, the BC Coroners Service continues to urge extreme caution given the increasingly toxic supply of illicit drugs in British Columbia.

The BC Coroners Service reports 153 suspected drug poisoning deaths in November 2020, an 89% increase from November 2019 (81) and a 7% decrease from the number of deaths in October 2020 (164). The latest data is equal to five people a day who lose their lives due to overdoses of illicit drugs.

Of the 153 deaths in November, 32 occurred at the Interior Health Authority. Eighteen deaths have occurred this year in East Kootenay, making it the worst year on record for drug overdose deaths in the region.

“Sadly, as we approach the end of 2020, our province faces a record year for the number of lives lost due to a supply of toxic illicit drugs,” said Lisa Lapointe, Chief Coroner. “During the five years of this public health emergency, more than 6,500 families experienced the grief and sadness of losing a loved one to the difficult medical condition of drug addiction. I offer my sincere condolences to all those who mourn a family member, friend or colleague because of this illness. “

There have been 1,548 illicit drug-related deaths to date in 2020 in British Columbia, and the number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest monthly totals on record. Toxicological results suggest a greater number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations from April to November 2020 compared to previous months.

“The impacts of COVID-19 have been fatal for people struggling with problematic substance use,” said Lapointe. “Ensuring access to critical harm reduction measures, including naloxone, supervised consumption sites, overdose prevention sites and drug control services, is essential if we are to prevent future deaths. Providing people with substance use disorders with access to pharmaceutical alternatives will be of immense benefit in reducing the harm and suffering resulting from the “for-profit” illicit drug market. Further, as recommended by coroner’s inquest juries and death review boards, an accessible, evidence-based and accountable treatment and recovery system is desperately needed to support those seeking such supports on their way. towards well-being.

In 2020, 70% of people who died from overdoses were between the ages of 30 and 59. Men accounted for 81% of deaths in 2020 to date.

The townships with the highest number of illicit drug poisoning deaths in 2020 are Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.

Death rates from illicit drug toxicity among people aged 19 to 59 have been on a downward trend for several months. However, rates among those 60 and over tend to increase.

Fentanyl or its analogues continued to be detected in over 80% of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2020. Cocaine and methamphetamine are the second most frequently detected drugs.

In 2020, 55% of illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred in private residences.

No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or overdose prevention sites.

Read the full report on Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths.

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