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HomeNews100 Mile HouseThe number of deaths from illicit drugs has skyrocketed in Quesnel.

The number of deaths from illicit drugs has skyrocketed in Quesnel.

The BC Coroners Service has singled out Quesnel for a dramatic increase in the number of deaths due to illicit drugs.

Andy Watson is the Manager of Communications…

“Back in the 2014 to 2016 period we were seeing about four deaths per hundred thousand people, and as we monitor this over time from 2018 to 2020 to date that rate is close to 39 deaths per hundred thousand, so a fairly significant increase over time as the drug supply and toxic drug supplies continues to spread throughout the province.”

Watson says since the start of 2018 there have been 23 deaths in Quesnel…

“So that is something to monitor and certainly we try and find trends to report out in different communities and that is one that has caught our eye.”

Watson says Northern Health as a whole has also seen a dramatic increase since the COVID-19 pandemic began…

“Northern Health Authority has seen illicit drug toxicity rates increase in recent months and remain relatively high, while Interior, while we’ve seen increases earlier in the year has sort of returned to numbers that are a little more reflective of what we’re seeing on the provincial scale.   Already in 2020 for the north we’ve surpassed the 2019 total with 80 deaths already in 8 months in 2020.   We had 66 in all of 2019, so that jumps out to us.”

Watson says Interior Health’s numbers are also high though.

There were 160 deaths in the first 8 months of this year and 139 all of last year.

BC as a whole, while showing a slight decrease from July’s numbers, has still seen six straight months of more than 100 deaths from illicit drugs.

Watson says all of these numbers come down to one thing, and that is access to a safe drug supply…

“We know the drug supply is toxic, we know Fentanyl has been contacted in about 4 in every 5 deaths, so we need to continue to look for ways to create access to safe supply.    If you are somebody that uses drugs or if you have somebody that uses drugs in your life, don’t use alone, buddy up.   If you have access to supervised consumption or overdose prevention services please use them.”

Watson says an example of that would be drug checking services to know what it is that you are going to be consuming.

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