Total of overdose deaths in Abbotsford rises to 23, as opioid crisis continues

As many as 60 per cent of illicit drugs death involved fentanyl

488 deaths from illicit drug overdoses were recorded in the first eight months of 2016 in B.C.

The ongoing opioid overdose crisis seems to have slowed slightly, but still took the lives of 49 people across the province last month.

There were 15 overdose deaths in the Fraser Health Authority region in August, the lowest figure recorded this year. (January was the most deadly month with 27 deaths caused by overdoses on illicit drugs in the region.)

Abbotsford has recorded the sixth most number of overdose deaths of any municipality this year, with a total of 23, two of which occurred in August.

The Fraser Health region has seen more than 35 per cent of the province’s drug deaths this year, with 172 fatalities in the last eight months.

There were 113 drug deaths in Vancouver Coastal, 93 on Vancouver Island, 80 in the Interior and 30 in the Northern health region.

The largest numbers of deaths by city have been in Vancouver (96 so far in 2016), Surrey (62), Victoria (39), Kelowna (27), Abbotsford and Kamloops (at 23 each), Maple Ridge and Nanaimo (20 each), and Langley (19).

The 488 deaths in total in B.C. so far is up 62 per cent from the same period of 2015.

The biggest increase in the rate of deaths occurred on Vancouver Island, where there was a 135 per cent increase. Vancouver Island also had the highest rate of deaths as a proportion of the population – 18.1 deaths per 100,000 people so far this year.

The 488 deaths from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 province-wide in 2016 represent a 62 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The number of deaths from opioid overdoses was down slightly from 55 in July to 49 in August, and is well off the peak of 81 in January.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe noted for the first time this year, the deaths in August were down from the same month in 2015.

“Without the work that has been done to increase the availability of this antidote to opioid overdoses, I fear we would have seen many more deaths,” Lapointe said. “But no one should ever assume that the presence of naloxone at a scene will automatically mean a good outcome.”

The number of deaths where fentanyl has been detected has doubled over last year, with 60 per cent of cases involving the drug either taken alone or mixed with other illicit substances.

There have been an average of 37 fentanyl-linked overdose deaths per month this year.

The most common drug overdose combination has been cocaine mixed with fentanyl, officials said.

A multi-prong response strategy has been underway since the province declared a public health emergency in April and created a dedicated task force in July.

In the latest move, the health ministry approved a request to deregulate and unschedule naloxone, allowing the life-saving overdose treatment to be sold at more locations.

Work continues to try to block fentanyl production and distribution, increase harm-reduction options and increase the number of addiction recovery beds.

More than 2,100 no-charge take-home naloxone kits have been used to reverse overdoses out of more than 13,700 distributed.

Posters and now videos are being released to make recreational drug users more aware of the risks they face.

A new video features Leslie McBain, founder of the support group Moms Stop the Harm, who lost her son Jordan to an overdose.

“It can happen to anyone’s child,” McBain said. “Education and awareness are at present the best tools we have for reducing drug harms including death.”

Vancouver Coastal Health is applying to Health Canada to add more safe consumption sites in the region.

— with files from Kelvin Gawley

 

 

Just Posted

Vehicle of missing Maple Ridge man is found in Abbotsford

Barrie Holt, 63, is also known to frequent Chilliwack area

UPDATE: Vehicle located and driver arrested in relation to fatal hit-and-run

Male pedestrian in his 50s died after being struck by vehicle on Highway 11 in Abbotsford

Incumbents in Abbotsford ridings heavily outspending challengers on Facebook

Liberal Jati Sidhu, the incumbent in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, has spent the most, by far

Cascades goal scoring king leading UFV to playoffs

Abbotsford Soccer Association product Gurmaan Jhaj establishes new goal mark

ELECTION HUB: Candidate profiles, voter information and news for Abbotsford’s ridings

We’ve collected our election coverage in one spot to help you decide who to vote for

YouTube video of Revelstoke grizzly bear goes viral

Why did the grizzly bear cross the railway tracks?

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force for malicious prosecution

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth cleared of wrongdoing after misconduct hearing

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Man charged in South Surrey torched-SUV killing granted bail

Harjot Singh Deo, arrested in May, was released from custody last week

Most Read