British Columbia

Rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. down in 1st quarter of 2019

New numbers from the B.C. Coroners Service show deaths are down 32 per cent in the first three months of 2019.

New numbers from B.C. Coroners Service show deaths are down 32% in first 3 months of 2019

The rate of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. dropped in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2018, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Illicit drug deaths dropped 32 per cent in B.C. through the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to new statistics released by the B.C. Coroners Service.

The average number of deaths per month in January, February and March of this year fell to 89, down from 132 in 2018.

The opioid fentanyl and its analogues continue to be a major concern, having been detected in approximately 85 per cent of the 227 illicit drug deaths recorded in the year's first quarter.

Other key findings show that carfentanil, a much more potent form of fentanyl, continues to be a growing concern. It was found in 28.1 per cent of all fentanyl-detected deaths.

Males continue to account for the majority of the illicit drug deaths — four out of five in the first quarter of 2019 — while two-thirds of those who died were aged 30-59.

Nearly nine in every 10 illicit drug deaths occurred indoors, more than half in private residences.

The B.C. Coroners Service said no deaths happened at safe consumption sites.

Data in the report is subject to change as investigations are concluded.

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