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HomeNews100 Mile HouseIllicit drug death rate is quite high in the Cariboo Health Services...

Illicit drug death rate is quite high in the Cariboo Health Services Delivery areas

The Health Services Delivery areas in the Cariboo continue to have among the highest illicit drug death rates in the province.

According to data released by the BC Coroners Service this (Tuesday) morning, the Thompson-Cariboo, which includes Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, is 2nd highest at 76.2 deaths per 100,000 people and the Northern Interior, which includes Quesnel, is third at 73.2

Only Vancouver is higher at 78 deaths per 100,000 people.

Northern Health has the highest drug toxicity death rate among all the health authorities at 62.7 per 100,000 people.

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Interior Health is at 47.8.

There were 13 illicit drug deaths in Northern Health last month and 30 in Interior Health.

BC recorded its deadliest February on record for illicit drug deaths, as 174 people passed away from a suspected overdose.

That equates to just over six deaths per day on average.

“As we approach the sixth anniversary of the declaration of the public-health emergency into substance-related harms, we are continuing to lose members of our communities at an unprecedented and terrifying rate,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

“The deaths of another 174 B.C. residents, so many of them young and middle-aged men with years of life ahead of them, is yet another reminder that urgent action is needed on a province-wide scale.  I extend my deepest sympathy to the many families, friends, and communities who are grieving the loss of a loved one.”

“I recognize that the concept of safer supply is difficult for some to understand given the many decades of a punitive, enforcement-based approach to substance use,” Lapointe said.

“However, unless we act quickly to provide a safe, regulated source of the drugs people are using in every community across our province, people we love will continue to be vulnerable to the profit-driven, chaotic illicit drug market. Safer supply, along with decriminalizing possession of drugs for personal use, reducing stigma, and building an evidence-based system of treatment and recovery are critical components for reducing the terrible harms and fatal consequences of the toxic illicit drug market.”

The Coroners Service noted that 74% of those dying so far in 2022 are between the ages of 30 and 59.

So far this year, 382 people have passed away province-wide. BC posted a record 2,232 drug overdose deaths in 2021.

More than 9,400 British Columbians have died from toxic illicit drugs since 2016.

No fatalities were reported at supervised consumption or drug prevention sites.

(With files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

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