B.C. overdoses claimed 3 lives a day in January, but that’s down 30% year over year

Nearly three people died of a suspected overdose in British Columbia for every day in January.

That’s according to the latest figures from the B.C. Coroners Service, which also reported a glimmer of hope: while January’s figures remain alarming, they’re more than 30 per cent lower than the same month the year before.

The coroners service says 90 people died of suspected overdoses in January of this year versus 130 in January 2018. This also represents a 22 per cent drop from the 116 deaths in December 2018.

However, in a potentially worrying development, the service found an unusually high number of overdose deaths in January in which the powerful fentanyl analogue carfentanil was detected.

Statistics depicting the rise of fentanyl as a cause of fatal overdoses in B.C.

Carfentanil was found in 13 fatal cases in that month, compared with 35 fatalities in all of 2018.

The report also found that fentanyl was involved in 1,310 illicit drug overdose deaths in the province in 2018, up seven per cent from 2017.

In fact, fentanyl and its analogues were found to be in about 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018, up from 82 per cent the year before.

As in every previous report, the service reports that there were again no fatalities in B.C.’s supervised consumption sites and overdose prevention sites.

Three-quarters of people who lost their lives to an overdose in January were between the ages of 30 and 59, and the overwhelming majority — 83 per cent — were men.

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