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HomeNews100 Mile House2020 has been a tragic year for drug overdoses in the Cariboo

2020 has been a tragic year for drug overdoses in the Cariboo

The opioid crisis in BC is getting worse and not just in the larger centers.

Lisa Lapointe, BC’s Chief Coroner, says the numbers are also skyrocketing here in the Cariboo…

“Back in 2016 for example when the public health emergency was declared, there was one death in Quesnel that year, none in 100 Mile and four in the Cariboo Chilcotin.   In 2020, 14 deaths in Quesnel, 2 in 100 Mile House and 8 in the Cariboo Chilcotin, so that’s from 5 in 2016 up to 24 in 2020.”

Lapointe says more people are dying per capita in Northern Health than in any of the five health regions.

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She says the problem may be worse in smaller communities…

“It may be that people are less connected to services, or they may not be available.  There may not be an overdose prevention site or supervised consumption site where somebody lives.  Drug checking services may not be available.”

Lapointe says stigma is another big factor in smaller communities as people are afraid that their drug use is going to be found out if someone they know sees them accessing services or getting Naloxone at the local pharmacy.

Lapointe says the COVID pandemic is making things even worse…

“With the advent of COVID those services (Naloxone and overdose prevention sites and supervised consumption sites and drug checking services) became quite diminished.   They weren’t as available because people weren’t available to offer them, and then of course those using substances like the rest of the world, are staying home.   We know that using alone is a huge risk factor for those using substances because if they get into trouble, there is no one there to reverse it.”

Lapointe says a toxic drug supply is the main reason that the opioid crisis is getting worse everywhere in the province, and she it is even more dangerous due to COVID as well, as they believe that the supply chain has changed, and that the fentanyl is being made locally…

“These are not scientific labs.   These are somebody’s kitchen or basement or room, that are very disorganized with no quality control.   And with fentanyl, which is such a dangerous substance, a few grains can make a difference between life and death.”

Lapointe says they are seeing much more extreme levels of fentanyl in post mortem toxicology testing.

 

ILLICIT DRUGS DEATHS

2016        2017       2018        2019       2020

Quesnel                          1               7              6               6             14

100 Mile House            0              1              3               2               2

Cariboo-Chilcotin        4              7              9               3               8

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