In B.C., 1,716 people died of illegal drug overdoses. A 74-per-cent rise since 2019 last year. The figure reflects approximately 4.7 deaths a day. More individuals have lost their lives to the province’s poisonous opioid supply than to murders, suicides, and traffic accidents combined. About 69 per cent of those who died were between 30 and 59 years of age.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe says that more than half of the fatalities in 2020 occurred in private homes where individuals were mostly used on their own. The pandemic has impacted overdoses in another way: through undermining the development of fentanyl, which is used by many illegal opioid consumers in the U.S. to produce the drug of choice, officials claim. In 2017, the Drug Death Investigation Team of the province was established.
“The grief is just as much as if their loved one died of COVID, or in a car accident or some other type of accidental event,” said Isbister. “I am there for the families. It’s the worst time of their life, so I feel the least thing that I could do is be there for them,” she said. “They understand what’s transpired, but they’re frustrated”.
Lapointe said, “Fentanyl is the toxic substance that is causing all of these deaths,” More than 80% of illegal drug overdose deaths in 2020 were detected by the drug. “It’s an epidemic that there’s been no answer to, and it’s been getting worse,” she said. To tackle the problem, advocates are calling for more to be done.