Thirteen people died of overdoses in Abbotsford in the first quarter of 2019 according to a new report from the BC Coroners Service.
At that rate, only Surrey and Vancouver have seen more overdose deaths so far this year at 33 and 72 respectively, while Victoria also experienced 13 overdose deaths.
If overdose deaths continue at the same rate in the city, they would add up to 52 by the year’s end, a 30 per cent increase over 2018, but still fewer than the 53 overdose deaths in 2017.
By that token, even as the province has seen a decrease in the rate of overdose deaths – 268 so far this year, compared with 400 in the first quarter of 2017 and 395 in 2018 – the overdose crisis is far from over.
Although B.C. has seen a decrease in the early months of 2019, it’s not the first decline in the province. In the final four months of 2017, overdose deaths hovered at around 100 per month, compared with closer to 130 in previous months. That largely picked up, however, into 2018, which ultimately saw a record number of overdose deaths.
Overdose deaths can fluctuate significantly from month to month – in March, the province saw 104 overdose deaths, compared with 73 in February and 91 in January.
Similarly, data from 2018, obtained through a freedom of information request, shows how much fatal overdoses can fluctuate – one month there could be three in the city, and the next month nine.
The fluctuations, in large part, are due to inconsistent batches of substances circulating.
The increase in overdose deaths in March this year has been attributed by the BC Coroners Service to carfentanil, a fentanyl analogue stated to be 100 times more toxic. Carfentanil was found in toxicology reports of 64 individuals who died of overdoses.