The number of illicit drug-related deaths in B.C. for the first five months of 2019 shows a year-over-year decrease, with 86 and 84 illicit drug-related deaths in April and May, respectively, down from 137 and 116 for the same months for 2018.
Overall, there have been 462 illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. through the first five months of 2019, down 30 per cent from the 2018 total (651) over the same period.
The BC Coroners Service said the data is subject to change and totals for 2019 will likely increase as post-mortem testing results are received, but it is a sign for cautious optimism.
In Kamloops, there have been 18 such overdose deaths between Jan. 1 and May 31, identical to the number of deaths between January and May of 2018.
Last year, the city recorded 48 overdose deaths (the most ever). In 2017, there were 38 deaths. In 2016, there were 44 deaths.
Key findings of the latest provincial drug deaths report include:
• The monthly average for illicit drug deaths for the first five months of 2019 (92 deaths per month) is down by approximately one-third from the same period in 2018 (130 deaths per month).
• More than two-thirds of the deaths in the first five months of 2019 involved people ages 30 to 59, with males accounting for almost four in every five of all illicit-drug deaths over the same period.
• For the first five months of 2019, almost nine in every 10 illicit drug deaths occurred inside, including more than half in private residences.
• Fentanyl or its analogues were detected in approximately 83 per cent of illicit drug deaths for the first five months of 2019 and 87 per cent of illicit drug deaths for all of 2018. By comparison, in 2012, fentanyl was detected in only four per cent of illicit drug deaths.
• Carfentanil was detected in almost one-quarter (102 of 383) of the fentanyl-detected deaths in the first five months of 2019. There were 35 carfentanil-detected deaths in 2018.
• A review of completed cases from 2016 to 2018 indicates the top four detected drugs relevant to illicit drug toxicity deaths were fentanyl (81 per cent), cocaine (50 per cent), methamphetamine/amphetamine (32 per cent) and heroin (17 per cent).
• No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites.