Northern Health records seven illicit drug deaths in April
Almost six people a day died of an illicit drug overdose in British Columbia on average during the month of April.
Northern Health has recorded seven deaths, including one in Prince George, according to the BC Coroners Service.
So far, in 2021, 48 people have lost their lives to illicit drugs in our health region, including 17 in the northern capital.
Province-wide, at least 176 lives were lost in April to toxic illicit drugs – the deadliest April on record and a 43% increase in deaths from the same month in 2020.
“Once again, we are reminded that the scale of this public health emergency is truly unprecedented,” said Lisa Lapointe, Chief Coroner.
“I offer my sincere condolences to all the families in the province who are going through the unimaginable pain of a sudden and unexpected loss. Every life lost to toxic drugs in our province is a profound tragedy. Each of them mattered and each of them will be missed. “
This brings the total number of deaths this year to 680.
The coroners’ service also confirmed that this was the 14th consecutive month in which more than 100 British Columbians have died as a result of illicit drugs.
Northern Health continues to have the highest drug toxicity rate of any health authority in British Columbia at 50 per 100,000 population, four points ahead of Vancouver Coastal (46 points).
In terms of the health service delivery area, the northern interior, which encompasses PG-Quesnel-Burns Lake and the Robson Valley, has the seventh highest drug toxicity mortality rate, at 42, 7.
Vancouver is 24 points ahead with a rate of 66.8.
The toxicity of British Columbia’s drug supply continues to increase, as fentanyl has been detected in 86% of all deaths this year.
However, the detection rate for benzodiazepines quickly dropped from 15% in July 2020 to 57% at the end of last month.
Additionally, men accounted for 79% of deaths in 2021.
“These latest figures underscore the toxicity of the illicit drug supply in British Columbia,” said Lapointe.
“We know that substance use disorders are a complex health problem and that those who suffer from them need meaningful and compassionate services and supports. Too often, families who have lost a loved one tell us that no help was available despite desperate searches for months or years. It is essential that harm reduction services, including secure procurement, are available where and when people need them, and that recovery services are evidence-based and accountable. “
Between 2018 and 2020, fentanyl was detected in 87% of all drug addiction deaths, followed by cocaine (49%), methamphetamine (38.6%), and other opioids (31%).
Earlier this year, British Columbia requested a federal exemption from Health Canada to decriminalize personal possession of drugs in the province.
The province is also increasing funding to provide recently expanded prevention services for people at high risk of overdose.
An investment of $ 45 million over the next three years will extend and improve the funding announced in August 2020.
Since a public health emergency was declared more than five years ago, 7,406 people have lost their lives to illicit drugs.