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

Abbotsford Hospice hosts fourth annual memorial butterfly release

Event on Saturday, July 27 at Tanglebank Gardens

Rail group to bring plan to Abbotsford council

Group is calling for plans to run trains on rail line between Chilliwack and Surrey

UPDATE: New Abbotsford ER expansion expected to welcome patients in October 2020

Deadline for construction proposals closes, but construction timeline unknown

Mt. Baker climbers reach summit in memory of Const. John Davidson

Team includes Abbotsford Police members, Davidson’s 3 kids and others

3 dead, 2 missing in northern B.C: Here’s what we know so far

Lucas Fowler, 23, and his girlfriend, Chynna Deese, were shot and killed on July 14 or 15

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Tubing world record broken on Vancouver Island

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Most Read