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National opioid overdose numbers show crisis is hitting the West hardest

Last Updated Jun 6, 2017 at 9:37 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

More than 2,400 Canadians died of opioids overdoses last year

BC is on track to surpass last year's record for deadly overdoses

OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – Alarming new statistics have been released by the Public Health Agency of Canada on what it’s now referring to as the opioid overdose epidemic.

It says 2,458 Canadians died last year, almost seven people per day due to the ongoing issue. The agency notes Western Canada has been hit the hardest. “Federal, provincial and territorial governments established this Special Advisory Committee in December 2016 to focus on urgent issues related to overdoses and deaths linked to the use of opioids and to promote information sharing between jurisdictions related to the opioid crisis in Canada,” the agency said in a statement.

BC’s Coroner Service says we’re well on track to surpass last year’s record total of opioid overdose deaths in this province.

Last month the service confirmed there were 136 suspected overdose deaths in the month of April. That amounts to almost double the number of deaths compared to the same month last year.

The newest data brings the total number of overdose deaths in the province to 488 in the first four months of 2017. Men account for over 80 per cent of the deaths and the majority were aged 30 to 49.

Illicit Drug Overdose Report -- BC Coroners Service

One thing that stood out in the latest provincial statistics is nine in 10 overdose deaths happened indoors, including more than half in private homes. The coroner says no deaths took place at supervised consumption sites, like Insite on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Overdose deaths have been largely attributed to fentanyl, which was connected to nearly 45 per cent of drug deaths between 2015 and 2016.
There were more than 920 opioid overdose deaths in BC last year alone.