The latest figures from the BC Coroners Service show fewer people are dying from drug overdoses and the number of deaths related to carfentanil has decreased over the past two months.
In June, 73 people across the province died of suspected illicit drug overdoses, a drop of 35 per cent compared with 113 deaths during the same month last year. There were 86 such deaths in May.
Through the first six months of 2019, there have been 538 overdose deaths, down from 763 deaths in 2018 and 832 deaths in 2017. In 2016, there were 413 overdose deaths in B.C. through the first half of the year.
In Kamloops, there have been 19 overdose deaths through June. In all of 2018, there were 47 overdose deaths in the city (the most ever recorded), with 38 deaths in 2017 and 44 deaths in 2016. In 2015, there were seven overdose deaths in Kamloops.
The Fraser Health Authority has recorded the most overdose deaths this year, with 188, followed by Vancouver Coastal (164), Vancouver Island (82) and Interior (73)
Fentanyl was detected in more than four of every five deaths in B.C. 2018 and during the first six months of this year.
“It shows that people don't know what they're getting,” said BC Coroners Service spokesman Andy Watson. “It shows that there is a risk when you're accessing drugs and it shows as well that some of these deaths are preventable.”
The detection of carfentanil peaked at 32 deaths in March, but the deaths related to the synthetic opioid decreased in May and June.
Carfentanil is believed to be 100 times more toxic than fentanyl. It is used as a sedative for large animals, such as elephants, and can be deadly to humans in extremely small amounts.
Watson said authorities will continue to monitor the decrease to see what they're dealing with.
Data showed males accounted for 78 per cent of all suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths for the first six months of 2019. No deaths were reported at supervised drug-use sites or drug overdose prevention sites, the data showed.
Watson said it's encouraging to see the number of B.C.'s illicit drug deaths are on the decline, but noted there is still concern over the number and severity of non-fatal overdoses in the province.
British Columbia has a higher proportion of illicit drug deaths related to other provinces, he said.
“So we do know that the drug supply in B.C. is toxic and that's one of the reasons we continue to urge people not to use alone,'' he said.