Two people are dying every day in BC due to overdosing on illegal drugs, according to the latest figures on illicit drug deaths from the BC Coroners Service.
From January 1 to October 31 this year, 622 people died from overdoses in BC, compared to 397 in the same period last year.
In October alone, 63 people died, up from 57 in September.
Fentanyl remains present in a high number of illicit drug deaths, detected in 332 fatal overdoses between January and September.
That is almost triple the number of fentanyl-related deaths for the same period last year.
Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic that is 50-100 times more toxic than other opioids. The dose must be carefully monitored to avoid accidental overdose.
The research figures also found that the proportion of men and boys among those dying from illicit drug use has steadily increased over the past four years.
In 2012, 71% of those who died were men or boys; in 2016 so far, that proportion has already risen to 80%.
Vancouver, Victoria, and Surrey remained the top three cities where fatal overdoses occurred between 2007 and 2016.
The shocking figures come after a public health emergency was declared earlier this year due to a spike in overdoses and drug-related deaths in BC.
It was the first time in BC’s history that a public health emergency has ever been declared, and it is also the first time a province had taken this kind of action over drug overdoses.
BC’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe will attend the federal health minister’s opioid conference in Ottawa on Friday, with a focus on exploring strategies related to drug overdose deaths.