Overdose Deaths Down Slightly in January
Prince George, B.C. – There was a slight decrease in the number of illicit drug deaths in B.C. last month, though the issue remains a grave concern.
The BC Coroners Service says illicit drug use accounted for 116 deaths in January, an average of more than seven deaths every two days – and still the third-highest number ever for a single month.
December saw the highest number of deaths ever at 142 and there were 128 in November.
“The January data show that almost 60 per cent of the illicit drug deaths involved persons between the ages of 30 and 49 years,” says the Coroners Service. “Continuing the trend from 2016, four out of five who died were male. More than 90 per cent of the deaths occurred in indoor settings with none reported from supervised consumption sites or overdose prevention sites.”
Forty-five of the deaths last month occurred in Vancouver – the highest in the province. There were none reported in Prince George (there was one reported in the Northern Health region. It was listed as a community in the northern Interior).
In light of the latest statistics, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe urges those who don’t currently use drugs to “avoid experimentation or any casual use of illicit drugs” adding “the continuing high number of deaths shows that the risks remain extreme.”
She also says early indications are that many of those who have died are drug-dependent and in many cases, have not succeeded in a variety of drug treatment programs.
The provincial government responded to the overdose crisis yesterday by announcing an investment of $5 million to support the ongoing work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response.
The money complements the $65 million over five years the federal government is allocating to help deal with the opioid crisis.