Illicit drug death numbers still high in Northeast B.C. and the province for January

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The province of B.C. has released the numbers for illicit drug deaths in January.

Although numbers decreased slightly compared to November and December of 2016, there were still 116 deaths from overdoses. This was still the third highest number recorded for a single month. It totalled an average of seven deaths every two days. December 2016 had the highest number of illicit drug deaths ever with 142.

January data shows that close to 60% of deaths involved people between 30 and 49 years of age. Four out of five deaths were male and more than 90% of the deaths occurred in indoor settings with none reported from supervised consumption sites or overdose prevention sites.

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Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says that many of those who died are drug-dependent and in many cases have not succeeded through a variety of treatment programs.

““For these people, I think we would be wise to seriously consider the carefully considered suggestion made by provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall – the possibility of providing clean, medical-grade heroin to that small subset of users for whom nothing else has worked.”

When it comes to northeast B.C. particularly, numbers have jumped in the last year.

Illicit Drug Overdose Death Rates by Health Services Delivery Area per 100,000 shows that in 2015, the number sat at 5.7. In 2016, that number jumped to 24.1. This was the third highest number only behind Vancouver (31.9) and Thompson Cariboo (27.4).

In northeast B.C., there were 4 deaths in 2015 compared to 17 in 2016.

The Northern Health Authority recorded the second lowest Illicit Drug Overdose Death Rates by Health Authority per 100,000 in 2016 at 17.3. The Fraser Health Authority was the lowest at 17.0. Vancouver Coastal had the highest at 21.7.

There were 914 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in 2016. This is a 79.2% increase over the number of deaths in 2015 (510).

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