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Fentanyl mostly responsible for new height in BC illicit drug deaths

Those numbers were released Thursday morning on by the BC Coroners Service, which noted that overdose drug deaths in B.C. had already exceeded last year's totals by August's end.

The province declared a state of emergency past year and took a number of steps to try and reduce the number of overdoses.

It follows a rising trend of overdose deaths in the province - 1,013 people were killed by overdoses in B.C. through August this year versus the record-breaking 982 deaths for all of 2016.

In August 2017 alone, 113 people died of suspecpted drug overdoses in B.C., averaging out to more than three-and-a-half deaths everyday.

Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe calls the data "heartbreaking", saying the province has several initiatives and harm-reduction measures in place.

The report found that more than 80 per cent of those who died had fentanyl in their system, up from 67 per cent past year.

The province describes illicit drugs as controlled and illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamines, and non-prescribed medications obtained from the street.

The report says that Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria have seen the highest number of illicit drug overdoses this year.

Lapointe said the data makes it clear that no illicit substance in the province can be considered safe, "whether you know your dealer or not". "Anyone using an illicit substance must be prepared for an adverse effect and must have someone else present who is willing and able to help".

Middle-aged men are the most at risk for drug overdoses. Four out of five deaths were male. Ninety per cent of deaths occurred indoors and there were no deaths at supervised consumption or drug-overdose prevention sites.



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