September 21, 2016 - 1:01 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Opioid overdose deaths continue to rise relentlessly in the Interior Health Authority with 14 more deaths recorded in July and August, new numbers show.
That brings to 80 the number of deaths recorded by the B.C. Coroners Service within the health authority’s service area this year, up from 66 at the beginning of July.
The good news is the numbers in July and August were half that of January when 16 deaths were recorded.
Kelowna and Kamloops, the health authority’s two largest cities, account for 50 of those deaths: 27 in Kelowna, 23 in Kamloops.
Like the rest of the province, the Interior Health Authority has been fighting a surge in overdose deaths, largely for opioid drug use and increasingly connected to the drug fentanyl.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says there have been 488 overdose deaths across the province up to the end of August, up over 60 per cent from the same period in 2015. The coroners service says 60 per cent of overdose deaths up to the end of July were connected to fentanyl.
The Interior Health Authority has responded to the overdose crisis by flooding the market with naloxone kits, the opioid overdose-reversing drug that can save an overdose victim long enough for medical intervention.
As well, the public health division is actively pursuing the creation of safe consumption services for Kelowna and Kamloops, although its still not guaranteed the service will go ahead.
Find more stories on drug overdoses here.
- This story was corrected at 4:59 p.m. Sept. 21. An earlier version and headline erroneously referred to 14 overdose deaths in one month. In fact, it was over two months, July and August.
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