The Cariboo started off 2022 with three illicit drug toxicity deaths in January.
That total included two in the Cariboo-Chilcotin health area which includes Williams Lake, and one in Quesnel.
Fortunately, there were zero in 100 Mile House.
Province-wide, there were 207 suspected overdoses, or just under 7 deaths per day.
There were 19 deaths in Northern Health, which equates to a death rate of 74.5 per 100,000 residents, by far the highest rate of any health authority.
Looking at the Health Service Delivery areas, the Thompson-Cariboo, which includes Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, had the highest drug toxicity death rate at 93.4 per 100,000 people.
The Northern Interior, which includes Quesnel, was next at 74.5
The BC Coroners Service says fentanyl has been detected in 83 percent of illicit drug deaths in 2022.
Post-mortem toxicology results underscore the increased volatility and toxicity of the illicit drug supply.
Between November 2021 and January 2022, approximately 23% of tests returned extreme levels of fentanyl (concentrations exceeding 50 micrograms per litre), compared to 13% of results between April 2020 and October 2021. Both Northern Health (29%) and Vancouver Coastal Health (27%) had averages that exceeded the average for the province.
“We know that illicit substances in our province are toxic and that those dependent on them are vulnerable to serious harms and death,” Lapointe said. “Ensuring access to safer supply, establishing a substance use system of care, and turning the focus away from punishing and stigmatizing are critical steps to resolving this public health emergency.”
The BC Coroners Service says most of those dying do far in 2022 are between the ages of 30 and 59.
40% of all fatalities this year are from those aged 50 and above.
BC posted a record 2,232 drug overdose deaths last year.