BC Coroners Service released Thursday the province’s illicit overdose death statistics to the end of February 2018.
“There were 102 suspected drug overdose deaths in February 2018 and this is a 16% decrease from the number of overdose deaths in February 2017 which is heartening to see, and a 19% decrease from the number of overdose deaths in January of this year,” says Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.
The number of deaths according to Lapointe have been slowly trending downwards since last summer although she says that the pattern of deaths that they have seen over the last couple of years continues with those dying primarily being male, between the ages of 19 to 59, and in indoors and private residences.
A Death Review Panel chaired by Micahel Egilson identified three areas of focus toward reducing illicit drug overdose deaths in BC:
- The need to provincially regulate and appropriately oversee treatment and recovery programs and facilities to ensure that they provide evidence-based quality care, and that outcomes are closely monitored and evaluated
- The need to expand access to evidence-based addiction care across the continuum, including improved opioid agonist therapies (OAT) and injectable opioid agonist therapies (iOAT) access, as well as a full spectrum of recovery supports
- The need to improve safer drug-use, through the creation of accessible provincial drug checking services using validated technologies.
Egilson says of the illicit deaths that the Panel reviewed over a 19 month period over 80% were regular users of illicit substances and that a substantial number of deaths ocurred amongst people who had recent contact with the health care system or with the BC Corrections system.
Over 1,400 people died from illicit drug overdoses in 2017.