An organizer displays a naloxone kit at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

An organizer displays a naloxone kit at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

The number of illicit drug overdose deaths has dropped in B.C., but the coroners’ service says users need to remain cautious about an unpredictable and toxic drug supply.

The BC Coroners Service says there were 69 suspected overdoses deaths in October, a 42-per-cent decrease from those killed by illicit drugs in the same month last year.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says while fatalities have decreased, the service knows from their health-care partners that the number of non-fatal overdoses remains high.

She says the decrease in overdose deaths is a promising trend, but the drug supply in the province remains unpredictable and the long-term impact of drug toxicity can be severe.

The coroners’ service says the crisis is far from over, pointing out that B.C. paramedics responded to more than 20,000 overdose calls between January and October this year.

The service says when paramedics respond to a potential overdose patient, that person has a 99-per-cent chance of survival.

READ MORE: Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem, report says

“This is why all partners in public health continue to stress the importance of not using alone and to call 911 if you see someone who may be experiencing adverse effects of a drug event,” Lapointe says in a statement. “We must continue to remain vigilant.”

The B.C. government declared a public health emergency in April 2016 when the number of overdose deaths jumped as the illicit opioid fentanyl began showing up in street drugs.

Statistics from the coroners’ service say fentanyl or its analogues were detected in about 85 per cent of the illicit drug deaths so far this year and it was a factor in 87 per cent of the overdose deaths last year.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

Many members of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club (pictured) have teamed up with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society to host a free ski in celebration of World Water Day. (Patrick Davies photo - Black Press Media)
Conservation society, cross country ski club, celebrate World Water Day with free ski March 6

The free ski will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 6 at Bull Mountain

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read