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Too Many People Still Dying From Illicit Drug Overdose: Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

It’s International Overdose Awareness Day to honor and remember those who have been lost to the crisis.

BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy says last year, we lost 1,450 people here in B.C., and by the end of this day three or four more British Columbians will die from a drug overdose as a result of a poisoned and unpredictable illegal drug supply.

“This means that we are losing more people from accidental overdoses than from suicides, car accidents and homicides combined,” Darcy said in a news release.

“These are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, co-workers and friends, and the families and communities they leave behind are filled with tremendous grief and heartbreak.”

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Latest figures by the BC Coroners Service show there were 134 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in July 2018 equating to about 4.3 deaths per day for the month.

Rates of illicit drug overdose deaths are highest in Vancouver, Northern Interior, Okanagan, Thompson Cariboo, and Northeast Health Services Delivery Areas.

Illicit fentanyl–detected deaths the Coroners Service noted, appear to account for the increase in illicit drug overdose deaths since 2012 as the number of illicit drug overdose deaths excluding fentanyl-detected has remained relatively stable since 2011 (average of 292 deaths per year).

“There is no single solution or approach that will work for every person,” Darcy said.

“We have been ramping up access to treatment and recovery options, including increasing the number of prescribers by 36% – an increase that has resulted in almost double the number of people receiving opioid substitution therapy and injectable opioid substitution therapy. We have opened more overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites. With our partners, we have distributed more than 114,000 naloxone kits, so that people can respond if called upon. We are establishing therapeutic recovery communities and other dedicated resources for youth.”

“With our unprecedented community partnerships and the open-heartedness of British Columbians, our progress gives me hope,” she added.

“While we can’t do this alone, and we know it won’t be easy, I know we can all do our part to educate ourselves and treat this complex issue with the compassion and empathy it truly deserves.”’

To mark International Overdose Awareness Day, Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) that is a network of Canadian families whose loved ones have died due to substance use or who hope for recovery, encouraged people to wear purple.

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