Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe

OVERDOSE CRISIS

New in-depth report sheds light on who in B.C. is dying of drug overdoses

Coroner’s report includes information such as marital status, employment status and housing situation

New numbers are revealing a more detailed look at the nearly 3,500 people who have died of an illicit drug overdose in recent years in B.C.

The BC Coroners Service released a report on Thursday looking at 872 completed overdose death investigations between 2016 and 2017. The investigations were led by a specialized team created two years ago after a spike in overdose deaths.

READ MORE: Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

READ MORE: As feds ease access to prescription heroin, B.C. could see relief: doctor

The report looks at several factors, ranging from marital status and housing to the person’s employment status and industry of work.

In what health officials have called a concerning trend, roughly 45 per cent had visited a doctor for pain-related issues, and 80 per cent had contact with health services in the year before their death, the report said. About 52 per cent of those who died had a reported mental health diagnosis or showed evidence of a mental health disorder.

In 2016, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. created a set of guidelines on prescribing opioids, now mandating that doctors have to show evidence of need when prescribing more than 90 mg of morphine or equivalent. This guidelines was updated to address those with chronic pain in June this year.

According to the findings, about 14 per cent of people who fatally overdosed lived in social or single-room occupancy housing, while nine per cent were homeless. More than 60 per cent lived in a home or condo.

Roughly 44 per cent were employed, with more than half of those working in the trades and transport industry.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram

READ MORE: B.C. doctors told not to limit opioids or refuse care of chronic pain patients

READ MORE: B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

The report also reinforced findings already shared by the coroners service, including that more than two-thirds of illicit drug deaths happened while the person was using drugs alone and indoors and that fentanyl has been detected in more than 80 per cent of all overdose deaths.

“We know this leads to a higher risk for death with a toxic drug supply,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said. “We continue to urge those using substances to plan to take them in the company of someone who can provide help: administering naloxone and calling 911 for assistance.”

To this day no fatal overdoses have happened at overdose prevention and safe consumption sites.

READ MORE: Battle to beat AIDS offers lessons in fighting opioid crisis

READ MORE: Advocates slam B.C. government ads meant to fight overdose crisis

While the report only speaks to investigations that were able to be completed by May this year, the coroners service is continuing to implement it’s Unintentional Drug Overdose Protocol. Created in August 2017, it now requires coroners to fill out a more detailed, 11-page document while responding to a suspected overdose death.

In August, the latest month in which statistics are available, 98 people died of a suspect drug overdose in B.C., bring the death toll this year to 972. In 2017, 1,452 people died.

READ MORE: B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Teen accused in Abbotsford attack on 85-year-old convicted of firearms offence

Brandon Janveaux found in vehicle in Chilliwack with .22-calibre rifle down his pants

Dad of missing Abbotsford woman charged after allegedly exposing himself in park

Barry Shpeley charged with sexual assault and assault at Hougen Park

Westbound Highway 1 crash slowing traffic in Langley

Vehicle in ditch east of 264 St. has right lane blocked by emergency crews

Not over yet: Mixture of snow, freezing rain on way as winter storm tapers in Lower Mainland

Environment Canada releases weather alert for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

VIDEO: Semi-truck driver records 22 crashes in one trip from Chilliwack to Abbotsford

‘Treacherous’ morning had emergency crews struggling to reach stranded drivers

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

Most Read