Fentanyl seized at a recent bust by the Ridge Meadows RCMP. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Fentanyl-linked overdose deaths soar in B.C.

The opioid was the cause of 81 per cent of the 876 deaths so far this year in the province

Fentanyl has caused more than 80 per cent of drug overdose deaths in B.C. in the first seven months of 2017.

The illicit drug was detected in 706 of the 876 deaths so far this year, a new report from BC Coroners Service released Thursday says. That’s already higher than the the percentage of deaths caused by fentanyl for all of last year – 67 per cent.

In most cases, fentanyl was combined with other drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

The increase comes despite efforts by police and government officials to gain a hold of the opioid crisis since the continuing increase of deaths was declared a state of emergency in 2016.

READ MORE: Looking at one year since B.C. declared opioid deaths a public health crisis

In November, the RCMP signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s public security ministry to work together to fight the illegal trafficking of fentanyl into Canada.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

Police in Vancouver – the city seeing the lion’s share of 379 fentanyl-linked deaths – say they now expect to find fentanyl in drug raids.

Health officials have opened more than 100 overdose prevention sites across B.C., targeting cities seeing the highest number of overdoses including Surrey and Victoria.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe and provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall have both called on the support from the federal government for prescription heroin as an option for treatment.

READ MORE: Physiotherapy could help combat B.C.’s opioid crisis: report

Meanwhile, carfentanil – an opioid that’s 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants – was detected in 13 drug overdose deaths in June and July, the report says.

July the first month of 2017 with less than 100 overdose deaths

July saw the first substantial decrease in overdose deaths this year, acting as a bit of relief in the ongoing overdose crisis.

Ninety-one people died from drug overdoses in July. That’s five deaths every two days, compared to seven in the previous six months of the year.

Despite the decrease, the majority of deaths are still occurring indoors and hitting men aged 30 to 39 the hardest, the report shows.

In a statement, Lapointe reiterated that drug users are at high risk of overdosing when they use alone and aren’t able to get help, which has been the case in most of the fatalities.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

fentanyl

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Girls, women try their hand at marine rescue in Surrey

Achieve Anything Foundation, RCMSAR Crescent Beach host ‘Operation: This IS You! Saving Lives at Sea’

White Rock cadets nab medals at Vernon competition

Thirteen members of 907 Squadron compete at regional meet

Surrey boy living with congenital heart disease to speak at local Tedx event

Mason Vander Ploeg will be speaking on saving the oceans

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Winds up to 70 km/hr expected across Metro Vancouver

Winds are expected to subside overnight

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

High-risk sex offender cuts off ankle bracelet, on the loose in Vancouver: police

Vancouver police said Kirstjon Olson, 38, is a provincial sex offender with 27 court-ordered conditions

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read

l -->