British Columbia Sun

Report analyzing four years of overdose demises in B.C. set to be released


Key takeaways: 

  • There were a record 2,224 presumed overdose demises in the region in 2021.
  • A report by a demise review panel probing the overdose situation in British Columbia is scheduled to be released Monday by the region’s chief coroner.

2,224 people dead by an overdose of drugs: 

A report from the coroner’s office says the panel examined 6,000 demises from harmful, illegal drugs between 2017 and 2021.

There were 2,224 presumed overdose demises in the region last year, a 26 percent hop over the prior year.

B.C. announced a public health emergency in 2016 when the potent opioid fentanyl created a wave in deaths.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has called for more access to safe supplies of drugs and the development of treatment and recovery programs.

A similar review released in 2018 suggested increasing treatment and recovery programs, expanding programs providing prescription drugs to those addicted, and testing prohibited drugs.

The number of demises began to decline in 2019. Still, officials have said it climbed again during the COVID-19 pandemic as more individuals were isolated in their houses, and the supply of illicit drugs rose more toxic.

Also read: BC Secondary students will require to finish Indigenous-focused coursework to graduate

Over 2000 people die from drug overdose in BC

Support levels see shifting demographics

Penny Douglass knows the heartbreak of losing an adored one to illegal drugs and has also seen firsthand how the overdose crisis unfolds.

Douglass lost her child to an overdose nine years ago. 

She states the peer-driven support group in Kamloops, B.C., that she’s an associate of has seen a swell in demand and a shift in demographics, with more grandparents seeking support as they take care of their grandchildren.

“These are parents whose kids would be in that precarious age group of 35 to 50,” she stated.

Douglass says it can be “terrifying for somebody in their 70s or late 60s to unexpectedly be handed an 11-year-old, a nine-year-old,” while they also manage to see their kids struggle with addiction. 

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