Latest overdose stats show fentanyl continues to kill in the B.C. Interior | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Latest overdose stats show fentanyl continues to kill in the B.C. Interior

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November 16, 2016 - 2:43 PM


THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Drug overdoses continue to claim a staggering number of lives across the Southern Interior.

In October alone, 14 people died of illicit drug overdoses within the Interior Health Authority region, which includes Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, according to new statistics released by the B.C. Coroners Service.

The total number of deaths in Interior Health since January is 108. Of those, 31 were in Kamloops and 37 in Kelowna.

There were 622 drug overdose deaths over the past ten months in B.C. — a rate of about two a day. This is roughly a 57 per cent increase over the number of deaths during the same period in 2015.

Fentanyl continues to play a large role in the upswing in deaths. This is apparent given the number of drug overdose deaths excluding fentanyl have remained relatively stable since 2011, according to the coroner’s service.

Since January, there were 332 deaths across the province in which fentanyl was detected. That is almost triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same period last year. Of those, 54 were recorded in the Interior Health region, with seven confirmed cases in the month of September alone.

With the number of deaths remaining so high, the B.C. Coroners Service continues to stress the importance of harm-reduction measures for anyone using illicit drugs or accompanying someone who is using. These include:

  • never using alone;
  • having naloxone present and readily available when using; and
  • knowing the signs of an overdose and calling 911 immediately.

This week, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe, Health Minister Terry Lake, police representatives and health officials will attend the federal Health Minister's Opioid Conference in Ottawa to discuss strategies.

Read previous articles on the fentanyl crisis here. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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