New numbers show short-term slowing of opioid crisis in B.C.

New numbers show short-term slowing of opioid crisis in B.C.

New data released by the B.C. Coroners Service shows 2019 started with a short-term slowing of the opioid crisis in B.C.

According to the report, the total number of illicit drug overdose deaths dropped by 31 per cent in the first month of 2019 compared to a year earlier — down from 130 suspected deaths in January 2018 to 90 in January of this year. 

A decline was also seen month-to-month, with a drop of 22 per cent from the 116 deaths in December of 2018.

The report says the number of illicit drug overdose deaths in January 2019 equates to just under three deaths per day in the province.

Fentanyl continues to be implicated as a major issue in the illegal drug supply: 

  • In January 2019, carfentanil was detected in 13 overdose deaths.
  • Fentanyl or its analogues were detected in approximately 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018, up from 82 per cent in 2017.
  • The total number of illicit drug overdose deaths with fentanyl detected was 1,310 in 2018, a seven per cent increase from the 2017 number of 1,223.

There were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.

The report says Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria experienced the most illicit drug overdoses in 2018, with the regional rates of deaths highest in Vancouver, the Northern Interior and Thompson Cariboo.

The numbers in the report are subject to change pending ongoing investigations that have yet to be finalized.