Illicit drug overdose deaths in BC have already eclipsed 2016 totals

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According to the BC Coroners Service, the number of overdose deaths in the province this year has surpassed the total number of deaths in 2016.

The information comes in the Coroners Service's August statistical update, which found 1,013 people have died as a result of a suspected drug overdose this year.

Those numbers were released Thursday morning on by the BC Coroners Service, which noted that overdose drug deaths in B.C. had already exceeded last year's totals by August's end. The same amount of people died from overdoses on the island in all of 2016.

According to the coroner's report, preliminary data suggests fentanyl was detected in approximately 81 per cent of deaths from January to August 2017.

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) has the highest rate of illicit drug overdose deaths among all provincial health authorities at 38.9 deaths per 100,000 individuals. In 2012, fentanyl was detected in just four per cent of overdose deaths. The province says in most cases, fentanyl was mixed with other drugs - most often cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines.

"We also need people to know that no illicit substance in this province can be considered safe, whether you know your dealer or not".

She said anyone using illicit drugs needs to be prepared for an overdose and have someone with them who is willing to help.

Middle-aged men are the most at risk for drug overdoses. Surrey has the second highest number at 123 deaths followed by Victoria at 65 deaths. Four out of five deaths were male.

The vast majority - 90 per cent - of deaths occurred indoors, and no deaths occurred at any supervised consumption site or at any of the drug overdose prevention sites.

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