More than one hundred drug-overdose deaths each month appears to be the new normal in British Columbia.
That compares to an average of 18.5 deaths per month recorded from 2007 to 2011.
More than 100 people have died of a drug overdose every month for the past 10 consecutive months, according to the latest B.C. Coroners Service report on illicit-drug-overdose deaths.
For several years, the figure was rising steadily. Then, in November 2016, it suddenly skyrocketed to a number that was previously unimaginable.
So far this year, illicit drugs have killed 1,013 people in B.C. That puts the province on track for more than 1,500 deaths by the end of 2017.
It’s up from 982 fatal overdoses in 2016, 519 in 2015, 369 in 2014, 333 in 2013, and 269 in 2012.
According to the coroners service report, during the first eight months of 2017 the synthetic opioid fentanyl was detected in 81 percent of fatal overdoses.
That figure is up from 67 percent in 2016, 30 percent in 2015, 25 percent in 2014, 15 percent in 2013, and five percent in 2012.
This is the second drug crisis in B.C.’s modern history. The first occurred during the 1990s.
That emergency reached its peak in 1998, when 400 people died after taking illicit drugs.
Adjusted for population, those 400 deaths equate to 10 deaths per 100,000 people living in B.C. in 1998.
In 2017, the rate of fatal overdoses per 100,000 people stands at 31.6.
For the region covered by Vancouver Coastal Health, which includes the City of Vancouver and Richmond, the rate of overdose deaths is 38.9.More