Fentanyl drug related deaths in BC, alarming

Fentanyl overdoses:  Burnaby considered to be slightly low risk for fentanyl overdoses as compared to the other areas.

While communities across BC are dealing with the scourge of an opioid and fentanyl crisis, new numbers show Burnaby is far from immune to the emergency.

In 2016, as of Dec. 1, there have been 29 illicit drug overdose deaths in Burnaby, with 14 linked to the drug fentanyl, according to the BC Coroners Service.

Last year, there were 16 overdose deaths recorded in the city. Smaller communities like Abbotsford and Langley are seeing similar numbers.

Speaking to the media, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe suggested illicit drugs are becoming increasingly unpredictable, adding the epidemic is affecting every community and people from all walks of life.  “We are seeing deaths everywhere,” she said.

In November, there were 128 overdose deaths across the province, and December isn’t expected to get any better. Last week, in one day 11 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. The latest numbers show fentanyl being detected in about 60 per cent of all overdose deaths this year.

“People who are dying are the people who are using without supervision and without medical help nearby,” Lisa said.

To help fight the problem, the Ministry of Health activated a provincial cold-weather strategy in the hardest-hit communities to prevent overdoses. Part of that effort includes setting up 18 overdose prevention sites by the end of the year in high-risk areas, including:  Vancouver, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Langley and Abbotsford. While the sites provide a safe place for people using drugs to be monitored in case of overdose.