October unregulated drug deaths up from prior month, down from last year

October unregulated drug deaths up from prior month, down from last year
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For the International Overdose Awareness Day in 2022, many gathered at the B.C. legislature, calling for more action to end the crisis.

Across the province, the number of people who died due to unregulated drugs increased in October from the month prior, but is down from October 2022.

In October 2023, 189 people are suspected to have died due to the unregulated drug supply. This is a nine per cent decrease from October 2022 when 208 people died, but up from September this year when 177 people died.

The number of unregulated drug deaths in October amounts to 6.1 people dying per day.

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So far this year, 69 per cent of people who have died have been between the ages of 30 to 59, and 77 per cent have been male.

Greater Victoria continues to have the third highest number of unregulated drug deaths in the province, behind Vancouver and Surrey.

Smoking was the most common method of consumption in the deaths, with 65 per cent showing evidence of consumption by smoking, followed by injection at 14 per cent, nasal insufflation at 14 per cent and oral at four per cent.

The B.C. Coroner says there continues to be no evidence that prescribed safer supply is contributing to unregulated drug deaths in the province.

October is the 37th consecutive month where at least 150 people died due to the toxic drug supply.

In Island Health, 35 people died due to the unregulated drug supply.

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For the first time since 2015, Central Vancouver Island is on track to have the most drug deaths of the three regions on Vancouver Island. To this point in 2023, 174 people have died in Central Vancouver Island, followed by South Vancouver Island where 134 people died and North Vancouver Island where 71 people died.

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Experts in B.C. have been calling on the province and Health Canada to provide a safe supply of drugs to combat the toxic supply circulating on the streets. However, the provincial government has indicated it does not plan to do so.

READ PREVIOUS: Expert panel lays out framework to roll out safer supply to prevent deaths in B.C.

“More than 13,200 people have died because of poisoned drugs since the crisis was declared in 2016,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in a news release.

“We recognize the depth of grief these numbers represent, far beyond what any statistics can convey. Nothing will ever replace these people in the hearts of those who love them. Our government continues to work urgently to provide access to effective and compassionate care.”

RELATED: DULF raid stalls ‘life-saving work’ addressing toxic drug crisis

The latest drug death numbers come the day after Island Health issued a drug poisoning advisory for Greater Victoria and the West Shore.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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