Toxic drug crisis continues in BC: 165 more lives were lost in March 2022

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By Link News Desk

The data showed death amongst female remained relatively high

VICTORIA: Toxic drugs claimed the lives of more than 150 British Columbians for the 18th consecutive month, according to the latest preliminary data released by the BC Coroners Service.

Additional key preliminary findings showed that the number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in March 2022 equates to approximately 5.3 deaths per day. The report notes that male illicit drug toxicity death rates decreased in March, while female rates remained relatively high.

The data also pointed thatillicit drug rates in all health authorities, except Fraser Health, decreased in March. However, illicit drug toxicity death rates in all health authorities remain elevated.

Expedited toxicological testing continues to provide evidence of the drug supply’s inconsistency and volatility. The detection rate for benzodiazepines, which rapidly increased from 15% of samples in July 2020 to 52% of results in January 2022, were detected in only 32% of tests conducted in March. However, the detection rate of fentanyl and its analogues continues to surge, with 94% of returned samples testing positive in March. Additionally, previously undetected substances such as flualprazolam are being found in increasing numbers of test results.

Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions called every life lost “a tragedy.”She asked people to stay safer by buddying up and downloading the free Lifeguard app, carrying naloxone with you, or visiting a supervised consumption site or an overdose prevention site for free drug checking and other harm-reduction services. For help, please check https://www.stopoverdose.gov.bc.ca/.”

Trevor Halford, Official Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said that the BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel report, released March 9, 2022, outlined a 30/60/90-day action plan which “the NDP government should be following to help stop these deaths yet, inexcusably, the NDP has already missed the first critical deadline.”

“With twice as many people now dying from overdoses compared to when the public health emergency was first declared, it’s clear the NDP’s current patchwork approach is not working,” she said.