OD deaths dropping

Opioids are continuing to kill people in B.C. at an alarming, albeit slower rate.

The latest numbers from the province showed there were 90 suspected drug overdose deaths in January, 2019 – an average of 2.9 deaths per day - a 31 per cent decrease over the number of deaths occurring in January 2018 (130) and a 22 per cent decrease over the number of deaths occurring in December 2018 (116).

While the numbers may have been down in January 2019, overall there were 1,310 illicit drug overdose deaths with fentanyl detected in 2018, a seven per cent increase over the number of deaths in 2017.

But an even deadlier drug than fentanyl is showing up on BC streets and it is turning up more often with carfentanil being detected in 13 overdose deaths in January alone.

Carfentanil has been detected in 35 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018 and 71 deaths in June to December 2017.

Carfentanil is an opioid that is used by veterinarians for very large animals like elephants. It is not for human use.

Users are being urged to use a drug checking service – available in Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops - to ensure the drugs are safe to consume.

There are also several harm-reduction sites in the region that users can utilize.

According to the report, there were no deaths at safe injection sites.

More fatal overdoses occurred during the days following income assistance payment than all other days in 2018.

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