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5 people a day in B.C. died from an overdose, latest numbers show

Needles are seen on the ground in Oppenheimer park in Vancouver's downtown eastside on March 17, 2020. Indigenous and civil liberties groups say the British Columbia government failed to consult them before proposing legislation that would force youth under 19 to stay in hospital after an overdose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward. Canadian Press

The BC Coroners Service says 162 people died of illicit drug overdoses in B.C. last month, for an average of about five overdose deaths per day.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe noted October was the fifth month this year where more than 160 suspected illicit drug deaths were recorded. There were twice as many illicit drug deaths last month than there were during the same time period last year.

There have been 1,386 illicit drug deaths in B.C. this year, the coroners service said.

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Lapointe noted that the COVID-19 crisis continues to contribute to an increasingly toxic drug supply and makes access to harm-reduction services more challenging.

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Read more: Opioid crisis: 127 people in B.C. died of illicit drug overdoses in September

In September, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry signed an order that gave more health professionals the ability to prescribe safer pharmaceutical alternatives.

“We encourage clinicians to support those at risk of overdose by prescribing safe supply and reducing the numbers of lives lost to toxic substances,” Lapointe said.

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“We also continue to advocate for an accessible, evidence-based and accountable treatment and recovery system for anyone experiencing problematic substance use who is seeking this medical assistance.”

There have been 1,386 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in British Columbia.

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