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

City of Surrey to remove eight dead trees along stretch of road where SUV was hit

Assessment confirms tree that fell was dead; others to be removed ‘early this week’

New Surrey Police force ‘swallowing up’ city’s funds, Annis says

City councillor says draft city budget shows new force coming at expense of ‘everything else’ in the city

Guitar ‘swap & sale’ planned at Cloverdale’s Shannon Hall

40-plus vendors are signed up for event on Saturday, Nov. 23

Panthers storm to playoff victory over Hyacks

Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir stuns New West in big win in B.C. high school football AAA playoff semifinals

CCTV cameras help Surrey RCMP arrest two bank robbery suspects

The robberies were in North Surrey on Nov. 7 and Oct. 1

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Duncan man gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty trial

Joe also gets lifetime ban on owning animals

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

Most Read