About 2.5 people still dying every day in B.C. from overdoses

IH sees fewest fatal ODs

UPDATE: 1 p.m.

Interior Health has the lowest overdose death rate in the province, according to the BC Coroners Service. 

The latest statistics show Interior Health has had 17.5 deaths per 100,000 individuals this year, up until Aug. 31.

By comparison, Vancouver Coastal has a rate of 25.5 deaths and Northern Coastal Health Region has 23.7. The average across the province is 20.5.

So far this year, 93 people in the IH region have died of an overdose. In 2018, the overdose crisis claimed 232 lives in the region.

In Kelowna, there were five OD deaths in 2009, peaking at 73 in 2017. Last year, there were 55, and so far this year, 19.

Penticton saw four deaths in 2009 and remained in single digits until 2017, when 14 people died. Last year, there were 16 OD deaths, and so far this year, 12.

Vernon also saw four deaths in 2009, but trended upward more quickly than Penticton, with 11 fatal ODs in 2013, and 24 in both of the last two years. So far this year, there have been 11.

For the first eight months of 2019, there were 690 overdose deaths in B.C. That's a decrease of 33 per cent over the same eight-month period in 2018, when 1,037 deaths were reported.

ORIGINAL: 11:50 a.m.

Illicit drug deaths were down in British Columbia in August from the same month last year but there were still an average of 2.5 people dying every day in the province.

The latest figures from the BC Coroners Service also say there were 690 illicit drug deaths in the first eight months of this year, a 33 per cent decrease from the same period last year.

By local area, the highest rates of illicit drug deaths are in the small communities of Princeton, Grand Forks and Hope.

The service says the powerful opioid fentanyl was detected in more than 85 per cent of the deaths in both 2018 and 2019.

Males are still the overwhelming casualty and account for 77 per cent of all suspected illicit drug deaths this year.

The service advises those who are using illicit drugs to have them checked, to never use alone and to use at a supervised consumption or overdose prevention site if possible.

The B.C. government declared a health emergency in response to the overdose crisis in April 2016 and has taken numerous steps to try to stem the death toll.

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