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Toxic drug deaths in B.C. continue to climb, with 184 lives lost in June | CBC News

Another 184 British Columbians died from toxic drugs in June, according to data released Wednesday by the B.C. Coroners Service, bringing the death toll in the first six months of the year to 1,200. 

The number of lives lost in June mark a two per cent increase from the previous month and a 17 per cent increase from June 2022. 

“British Columbia is continuing to lose community members at record rates as a result of the toxicity of the unregulated drug market ,” said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe in a statement. 

“Anyone accessing an illicit substance is at risk of serious harm or death.”

Lapointe says fentanyl is the main culprit driving the crisis in communities big and small across British Columbia.

The coroners’ service says 90 per cent of all drugs tested in June showed the presence of fentanyl or a fentanyl-like substance.

How to effectively administer naloxone to someone who may be experiencing an overdose event

In B.C., naloxone kits are widely distributed in an effort to save people from a toxic drug overdose. Brian Twaites, a paramedic public information officer with B.C. Emergency Health Services, showed Dan Burritt how to effectively administer naloxone to a patient.

“My heart goes out to everyone who is grieving. These are irreplaceable losses,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside in a statement Wednesday morning. 

She said people can stay safe by buddying up when using drugs, downloading the free Lifeguard app, carrying naloxone with them, or visiting one of the province’s drug-checking sites.

Lapointe said the coroners’ service continues to recommend the expansion of a safer drug supply throughout the province. 

The report notes there is no indication that prescribed safer supply is contributing to unregulated drug deaths.

The Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General says drug toxicity continues to be the leading cause of death in B.C. for people between the ages of 10 to 59, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural disease combined.

At least 12,509 British Columbians have now died since a public health emergency over the drug crisis was declared in April 2016, the ministry said.


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