Despite all efforts, more people died from drug overdoses in November compared to any other month in recorded history.
B.C.’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says 128 people died from drug overdoses last month or approximately four people per day.
“Clearly illicit drugs are becoming increasingly unpredictable and increasingly perilous. It may be that there has been more toxic fentanyl then usually circulating or we may be facing the terrifying possibility of carfentanil being introduced broadly into the illicit drug stream or the arrival of another particularly lethal analogue of fentanyl.”
Fentanyl is responsible for 60 per cent of the fatalities.
Lisa Lapointe: without the presence of #fentanyl we would not be seeing the number of deaths we have.
— LizaCKNW980 (@lizaCKNW980) December 19, 2016
The number of overdoses leapt to 755 by the end of November, a more than 70 per cent jump over the number of fatalities recorded during the same time period last year.
Prior to Monday’s numbers, there had been 622 fatalities from illicit drug overdoses.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall says withdrawing rapidly has a very high risk or relapse – and with that, a higher overdose risk because of a lower tolerance level.
“The evidence is really clear that the first line of treatment should be acceptable opioid replacement therapy such as Suboxone or Methadone”
Kendall says one of the barriers is doctors need more education on this line of treatment and a willingness to treat people with addictions.
With files from Liza Yuzda and Shelby Thom