New report sheds light on who is dying in opioid crisis - InfoNews

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New report sheds light on who is dying in opioid crisis

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September 27, 2018 - 1:00 PM

A new report from the B.C. Coroners Service dives into much more detail about drug user deaths between 2016 and 2017 in the province.

The report looks into more than 870 illicit drug overdose death investigations and found that in more than half of those cases involved a mental illness diagnosis or showed evidence of a mental health disorder, more than two-thirds used drugs alone, 45 per cent reported pain-related issues, and just nine per cent were homeless. The majority of people also lived in and overdosed in private residences.

About one in every four deaths worked in trades or transport, primarily men, and most of the people who died either had never been married or were previously separated or divorced.

"Illicit drugs continue to be the source of more than three deaths per day in B.C.," said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe, in a news release. "Our expanded analysis confirms that more than two-thirds of these illicit drug deaths in 2016 and 2017 involve people using alone and indoors. We know this leads to a higher risk for death with a toxic drug supply. We continue to urge those using substances to plan to take them in the company of someone who can provide help: administering naloxone and calling 911 for assistance."

The most common method of consumption among drug users across the province were smoking and injection, but in the Interior Health Authority, out of 136 deaths investigated, the most frequent mode of consumption at the time of death was intranasal administration.

Fentanyl was once again the most frequently detected substance in these deaths, followed by cocaine, alcohol and methamphetamines. Fentanyl was detected in a higher percentage of deaths among 15- to 29-year-olds than other age groups.

In a separate report on overdoses in August 2018, there were 98 suspected drug overdose deaths in that month, which is a 20 per cent decrease over the number of deaths in August 2017, and a 27 per cent decrease over the number of deaths in July 2018.

The highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths is in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority at 36 deaths per 100,000 individuals, followed closely by the Interior Health Authority at 32 deaths per 100,000 individuals.

Rates of drug overdose deaths are highest in Vancouver, the Northern Interior, Okanagan, Thompson Cariboo and South Vancouver Island health services delivery areas.

So far this year, there have been 40 overdose deaths in Kelowna, 25 in Kamloops, and 17 in Vernon.


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