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HomeNewsCariboo-Chilcotin sees spike in suspected overdose deaths

Cariboo-Chilcotin sees spike in suspected overdose deaths

The BC Coroners Service says there were 9 suspected overdoses in the Cariboo/Chilcotin area, which includes Williams Lake, through the end of April of this year.

That works out to 102.5 per 100,000 people, which is up from just 34.4 in all of 2021.

Quesnel had two suspected overdoses through the end of April and 100 Mile House had zero.

Northern Health Authority has the highest death rate due to drug toxicity at 57.8 per 100,000.

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Interior Health is third at 63.9.

In terms of the health service delivery areas, the Thompson-Cariboo, which includes Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, is behind only Vancouver at 66.4 deaths per 100,000.

The Northern Interior, which includes Quesnel, is third out of 16 at 63.9.

BC had a total of 161 suspected overdose deaths in April, which works out to more than 5 per day.

More than 26% of those who died in April were female, continuing a shifting trend that began earlier in the year.

“Coroners’ investigations continue to document the volatility and inconsistency of the illicit drug supply in our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

“The reality is that every time someone uses drugs purchased from the unregulated market, their life is at risk. Until a safer, regulated supply is widely accessible, I encourage those using drugs to use only in the presence of someone who can provide help and call for medical assistance if that’s required. Anyone using illicit substances, whether they are regular or occasional drug users and whether they know their dealer or not, is currently at risk from the unpredictable, unregulated supply.”

The Coroners Service noted that 73% of those dying so far in 2022 are between the ages of 30 and 59.

“The drug toxicity death review panel report released earlier this year contains advice focused on urgent measures to reduce the numbers of those dying as a result of drug toxicity in B.C.,” Lapointe said.

“The panel highlighted access to a safer drug supply as the most critical life-saving need in this crisis, along with a coordinated, goal-driven provincial strategy and a comprehensive continuum of substance-use care. BC Coroners Service data for the first four months of 2022 shows us that our province is on the path to yet another tragic milestone in terms of lives lost. I am hopeful that the implementation of the panel’s recommendations, on an urgent basis, will stop these preventable deaths.”

So far this year, 722 people have passed away province-wide from illicit drugs.

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

(With files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

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