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.

Just Posted

Record temperatures expected for Abbotsford

Forecast calls for highs of 22 degrees this week

Race and sport examined at new We Are Hockey exhibit in Abbotsford

UFV SASI hosting exhibit looking at hockey history and race

‘Long Island Medium’ Theresa Caputo comes to Abbotsford

Star of hit TV show appears at Abbotsford Centre on April 7

Fraser Valley Thunderbirds advance to BCMML semi-finals

T-birds sweep Valley West to move on, minor T-birds finish second

Future of Abbotsford schools may be vertically built

High price tags on land, few free acres for schools may mean future schools are built up

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Accused Surrey transit cop shooter’s bail hearing set for April

Daon Gordon Glasgow, 35, is accused of shooting Transit Police Constable Josh Harms, 27

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

Most Read