Illicit Drug Deaths are Down

Illicit Drugs

In the first five months of 2019, a new BC Coroner's Service report has found deaths from illicit drug overdoses have decreased.

The report shows that Kelowna’s monthly average has decreased by almost half since 2017, ranking 7th out of 16.

 “Looking at the monthly totals for 2019 for the first 5 months, we've seen a decrease of the monthly average to about three deaths a month in Kelowna for 2019, compared with almost five deaths a month in 2018. That's down from what we saw in 2017, which was about six deaths a month,” said Andy Watson, Manager, Strategic communications with the Coroner’s Service,

He believes the decrease suggests supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites have had a huge impact in preventing public deaths and drug use.

No deaths reported at any of those locations in the province.

The report does suggest that 1 in 3 deaths so far have occurred in what they classify as 'other' residences.

“About 87 per cent of the deaths reported thus far in 2019 have occurred indoors and of that some of those are in 'other' residences, as we define them. So that could be social and supportive housing, that could be single-room occupancy homes, that could be shelters or hotels,” said Watson.

The BC Coroner’s Service is cautiously optimistic, as harm reduction efforts continue to improve the drug crisis provincially.

"Certainly we know that there has been a change in talk around stigma. We know that people are now more aware of the toxic drug supply. So, I think an increase in public awareness and public education and an increase in the resources that are available for somebody who may have come across a bad batch, we know that that is working and we know that it’s helping people to be able to live another day and be able to try and help get treated.”

He stated this is a public health emergency and the province needs to continue to look at other solutions to prevent death.

“When you're dealing with close to 100 deaths a month, you we need to continue to look at other opportunities to help prevent death in similar circumstances.”