Kelowna passed 2016 in number of illicit drug overdose deaths

In the first 7 months of this year, Kelowna has surpassed the number of illicit drug overdose deaths in all of 2016.

Andy Watson, spokesperson for the BC Coroners Service, says between January and July this year there have been 50 drug overdose deaths in Kelowna - compared with 47 for all of 2016.

He says it's a similar situation in the region, as whole, and the powerful opioid fentanyl is playing a huge role.

"Last year we saw 76 deaths in the Okanagan - 61 one of those had fentanyl detected in them, and that was through a 12 month period. Already in 2017, through the first 7 months of the year, the Okanagan has seen 96 total illicit drug overdose deaths - 77 of those had fentanyl detected in them," he says. 

Provincially, fentanyl has played a part in 81% of all illicit drug overdose deaths.

Watson says the opioid has turned up in a vareity of street drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine - and using these drugs is extremely risky. 

He says health officials are urging people not to use illicit drugs at all - but if you require drug use - do so at a safe consumption or safe injection site, or have naloxone on hand to reverse the effects of an overdose.