Opioid deaths continue to drop in B.C., but more than 100 people died in June

Click to play video: 'Virtually all street heroin contains fentanyl, report says'
Virtually all street heroin contains fentanyl, report says
A new report says virtually of the heroin purchased on the street is contaminated with some level of fentanyl. Aaron McArthur has more on the growing risk to drug-users – Aug 2, 2018

For the third month in a row, the number of illicit drug overdose deaths has gone down in B.C. The Coroners Service reports that 105 people died of drug overdoses in June, compared to 123 deaths in June 2017.

The number of illicit drug deaths has gone down each month since a record high in March, when 162 people died in the province. In the first six months of 2018, a total of 742 people died from illicit drugs, a drop from 816 during the first six months of 2017.

READ MORE: Grade 10 student from Metchosin dies of suspected overdose

“In 2018, 71% of those dying were aged 30 to 59; individuals aged 19-59 have accounted 90% of illicit drug overdose deaths. Males accounted for 80% of all suspected illicit drug overdose deaths over the same period,” reads the monthly report from the Coroners Service.

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So far in 2018, nine people between the ages of 10 and 18 have died from illicit drugs. The province’s biggest cities continue to lead the way, with 193 deaths reported in Vancouver, 111 in Surrey, 47 in Victoria and 31 in Kelowna.

Fentanyl continues to be detected in a high percentage of overdose deaths. Based on the Coroners’ preliminary data, 81 per cent of the deaths in 2018 had traces of fentanyl. The toxic substance was detected in 84 per cent of deaths in 2017.

READ MORE: B.C. paramedics called to highest number of overdoses in a single day since April 2017

“Illicit fentanyl–detected deaths appear to account for the increase in illicit drug overdose deaths since 2012 as the number of illicit drug overdose deaths excluding fentanyl-detected has remained relatively stable since 2011,” reads the report.

The Coroners’ monthly update comes on the heels of findings from a pilot project led by the B.C. Centre on Substance Use. That project found that more than 80 per cent of drugs sold as heroin on Vancouver’s streets didn’t contain actual heroin. It also found that nearly all of the drugs sold as heroin contained the deadly fentanyl.

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