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Williams Lake not alone in increased overdoses

One month ago, the Interior Health Region issued its first of two drug alerts within two weeks in Williams Lake.

Since May, paramedics have responded to over 30 overdose calls in Williams Lake, including 12 in July. That number brings the total to 64 in 2020, compared to 78 in 2019, 72 in 2018, and 52 in 2017.

According to the BCEHS last month, paramedics in BC responded to the highest number of overdose calls ever recorded since the opioid crisis was officially declared in 2016.

Paramedics were called to 2,706 overdose calls in July; 87 overdose calls a day.

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Inspector Jeff Pelley, the detachment commander for the Williams Lake RCMP, said that he and the detachment had noticed the increase of overdose.

“We continue to work and focus on those individuals that may be responsible for trafficking potent, illicit drugs, such as fentanyl,” he said. “We are going to continue to focus on our illicit drug traffickers and hold them fully accountable.”

He added that RCMP is also working with agencies to help those addicted to substances.

A recent study shows that there have been over 15,000 opioid-related deaths in Canada since 2016, with B.C. recording more than 5,000 deaths from illicit drug overdoses since declaring a public health emergency in 2016.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and looked at 1,789 overdose deaths in British Columbia between 2015 and 2017. The coroner was able to determine the substances relevant to the deaths.

The study reported that despite decreases in the prescription of opioids across the province, the death rate from illegal drug overdoses has continued to rise.

The death rate from illicit drugs has increased from 7.8/100,000 in 2014, to 30.0/100,00 in 2018.

The study points the cause of the increase in overdose-related deaths to the introduction of fentanyl into the illicit drug supply.

From 2012 to 2018, the number of deaths from an illicit drug overdose in B.C. in which fentanyl was detected rose from 4% to 87%.

Prescribed opioids were detected in only two percent of the close to 1,800 deaths. 6.7 percent had a combination of prescribed and nonprescribed opioids.

Fentanyl was detected in 78.5 percent of deaths with one or more nonprescribed opioid-related deaths, with stimulants were detected in 70.6% of cases.

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