Fraser Valley/Victoria – The numbers continue to climb in relation to overdose deaths and the toxic drug supply n the street.
Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, released the following statement regarding the BC Coroner’s Service’s year-end report:
“The toxic-drug crisis continues to devastate our province. Today’s release by the BC Coroners Service of the 2022 drug toxicity deaths is a sharp reminder of lives cut too short and of families left behind. We mourn the 2,272 lives lost last year in British Columbia, not as a number but as people who matter. They are siblings, parents, neighbours and friends from communities across the province and my heart goes out to all those we lost and everyone who loved them.
By Local Health Area (LHA), in 2022, the highest rates were in Vancouver – Centre North, Terrace, Merritt, Hope, and Prince George.
In 2022, 84% of illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred inside (55% in private residences and 29% in other inside residences including social and supportive housing, SROs, shelters, and hotels and other indoor locations) and 15% occurred outside in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks, etc.
Illicit drug toxicity death rates among all age groups 19+ years have increased in December 2022 compared to November 2022.
Rates of male illicit drug toxicity deaths increased in December 2022 compared to November 2022.
The proportion of deaths that are 50+ years of age has steadily increased from 2015. In 2022, 38% of decedents were at least 50 years old .
Illicit drug rates in Fraser, Vancouver Coastal, and Northern health authorities have increased this month compared to last month.
The detection rate of benzodiazepines has rapidly increased from 15% of expedited toxicological samples in July 2020 to 52% of samples in Jan 2022. It has since gone down to 19% in December 2022.
Between July 2020 and August 2022, etizolam was found in 35% of illicit drug toxicity deaths that have undergone expedited toxicological testing. Etizolam is a benzodiazepine analogue and non-opioid sedative that does not respond to naloxone and creates life-saving challenges for first responders.