Drug overdose deaths in B.C. down month-over-month, year-over-year

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There were 73 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. in June, a 35 per cent decrease from the number of deaths in June 2018, which saw 113 deaths. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Illicit drug death numbers continue to fall in B.C., say BC Corners Service figures released Aug. 16.

There were 73 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in June, a 35 per cent decrease from the number of deaths in June 2018, which saw 113 deaths.

It’s also a 15 per cent decrease from the number of deaths occurring in May, which saw 86 deaths.

There were approximately 2.4 illicit drug toxicity deaths per day in June 2019.

The decrease numbers are also reflected in year-over-year numbers. For 2019’s first six months, there were 538 illicit drug toxicity deaths, a drop of about 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2018 when 763 were reported.

By local health area, the rates of illicit drug toxicity deaths are highest in Princeton, Merritt, Vancouver, Grand Forks and Hope.

In 2019, 71 per cent of those dying were aged 30 to 59 years. Individuals aged 19 to 59 years have accounted for 89 per cent of all illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019. Males accounted for 78 per cent of all suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019.

Fentanyl was detected in more than four of every five illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2018 and 2019. Carfentanil contamination in the drug supply appears to be falling. After higher levels were detected in the first four months of 2019, peaking at 32 deaths in March, there were decreases in the numbers of deaths with carfentanil detected in May with 13 deaths and June with four.

No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption sites or drug overdose prevention sites.