Coroner's data released over the holidays shows B.C.'s opioid epidemic continues with 100 dying every month

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      The number of drug-overdose deaths in British Columbia remained well over 100 per month through October and November 2018.

      There were 110 fatal overdoses in October and then 120 in November.

      That’s down slightly from 131 deaths recorded in September, but still miles above an average of 43.8 deaths recorded each month just three years ago, in 2015.

      The B.C. Coroners Service shared this latest batch of statistics covering the province’s overdose epidemic nearly two weeks ago, but the numbers received little attention because they were released over the holidays, between Christmas and New Year’s. (The release date of December 27 was not selected to bury the depressing news. The B.C. Coroners Service shares data on the crisis regularly, roughly around the same time each month.)

      Since the extremely dangerous synthetic-opioid carfentanil arrived in B.C. during the winter of 2016, there have only been two months when the province recorded less than 100 illicit-drug overdose deaths. Those months are September 2017, when there were 95 deaths, and October 2017, when there were 99.

      The better-known synthetic-opioid fentanyl was first detected in Vancouver in 2012. Carfentanil, an even-more potent drug that is used legally as a tranquilizer for elephants, came to B.C. later, in late 2016.

      Travis Lupick / B.C. Coroners Service

      In 2012, fentanyl was associated with four percent of overdose deaths in B.C. The following year, that number was 15 percent, then 25 percent in 2014, 29 percent in 2015, 67 percent in 2016, and then 82 percent in 2017.

      So far this year, fentanyl and carfentanil, which the B.C. Coroners Service group together in these reports, are associated with 85 percent of fatal overdoses.

      The B.C. coroner’s statistics shared on December 27 once again confirm that the province’s epidemic of drug-overdose deaths shows no sign of dissipating.