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Overdose deaths declining, but danger remains

Drug deaths are down in British Columbia, but the Coroners Service says people still need to be careful.

That’s because of an “unpredictable, toxic, illicit drug supply” in the province.

Numbers released by the service today show there were 69 suspected overdose deaths in October, which is a 21 per cent drop from September and down 42 per cent from the previous October.

“While Coroners Service data shows that the number of fatalities related to illicit drug toxicity has decreased this year, we know from our partners in health care that the number of non-fatal drug toxicity events remains high,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “The drug supply in our province is unpredictable and perilous, and the long-term impacts of drug toxicity can be severe.

“The decrease in the number of fatalities is a promising trend, but we need to continue to keep our focus on this crisis of unsafe supply and continue to explore meaningful measures to reduce the risks for all British Columbians.”

So far this year there have been 132 overdose deaths in Island Health’s jurisdiction and 240 in Vancouver Coastal Health.

The North Shore/Coast Garibaldi area, which includes Powell River, has seen 21 deaths in 2019 so far, compared to 42 for all of 2018. North Vancouver Island, a region that includes the Comox Valley, Campbell River, and Port Hardy, has had 26 fatal overdoses this year, compared to 29 all of last year.

Looking at the people who have died this year, 89 per cent of them were between the ages of 19 and 59, and men have accounted for about nine out of every 10 drug deaths.

To help prevent fatal overdoses the BC Coroners Service urges people to carry a naloxone kit, including those that don’t do drugs, and to call 911 if you see an overdose happening.

Users should have them checked for safety and never use alone, preferably at a supervised consumption site or OD prevention site. You should speak with your doctor if you believe you have an addiction issue.

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