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BC Coroners Service Releases Report Examining Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl appeared in more than three-quarters of all the overdose deaths in the province over a two-year span.

The BC Coroners Service has released a 34-page report examining 872 completed illicit drug overdose death investigations in 2016 and 2017 and a number of trends emerged.

More than 80 per cent of those dying from overdose deaths were men, two-thirds of people dying from overdose deaths lived in private residences, and Andy Watson, the Strategic Communications Manager with the BC Coroners Service says the report clearly shows that those who use drugs alone are far less likely to survive an overdose.

“We continue to urge people that are using substances to make plans to use in the company of someone who can either administer naloxone or call 9-1-1 for assistance,” said Watson. “We know that people who aren’t using alone have a higher chance of recovery and if they get a bad batch of a toxic drug supply, somebody can help them out.”

Two-thirds of people who die from overdoses are using substances alone.

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“More than half the decedents were unemployed, so it signals to us that the people dying are isolated or unemployed,” said Watson. “Those who were employed, the bulk of them worked in an industry, either trades or transport…often an occupation where you’re working alone.”

Medical Health Officer Shannon Waters says the overdose prevention site in Duncan has seen one hundred and twenty overdoses, resulting in no deaths.

When the Canada Avenue site opened in Duncan, less than 40 people were using the service in a month. Now, at the Trunk Road site, it’s not uncommon for staff to see more than one hundred people a day.

More information is available here.

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