Illicit drug deaths still high despite a slight drop in August: Chief Coroner

VANCOUVER, B.C. – In the latest statistics that were released today by the BC Coroner Service, the number of illicit drug deaths still remains high even though numbers were down in August.

August 2016 marks the first month of 2016 where the number was reduced over the equivalent month in 2015.

From January 1st, 2016 to August to 31st, 2016 the total number of deaths from illicit drug use was 488. That is an increase of 61.6% from the same time period in 2015.

The major drug of concern is still fentanyl. From January 1st 2016 to the end of July 2016, there has been 264 deaths in which Fentanyl was found. fentanyl was found in 60% of all illicit drug deaths.

Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, said that the most common drug combination they see in deaths is fentanyl with cocaine. She says often times it is people using cocaine, having no idea that it contained fentanyl.

In Northeast BC there has been 12 illicit drug deaths so far. In all of Northern BC there has been 30 deaths so far this year. Last year, there were only 26. There was 1 Northern BC death in August of this year.

Lapointe also says the other message that needs to get across is we need to deal with those who use drugs, in a non-judgemental, non-blaming way.

Part of the fight against illicit drug deaths, has been naloxone. To date more than 13,000 no-charge naloxone kits have been dispensed. Reports of over 2,100 kits have been used to reverse opioid overdoses so far.

Over 11,000 people have gotten training on naloxone. These kits are now available in over 300 sites across BC, including: emergency departments, 3 pre-provincial correctional facilities and the one pre-federal correction facility.

 

Anyone that knows someone using drugs or if they are a drug user themselves, should have a naloxone kit on hand to deal with a potential opioid overdose say doctors.

If you suspect someone has overdosed, call 9-1-1 immediately.

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