Nfld. & Labrador

Last year, 25 people in Newfoundland and Labrador died after taking drugs

One person hadn't made it to their 23rd birthday and the oldest was 57.

Ages range between 22 and 57, with deaths noted in nearly every region in province

Naloxone kits can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. As they can be used at home, it's difficult to say how many people overdosed — and survived — last year. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

There were men and women, all across Newfoundland and Labrador. One person hadn't made it to their 23rd birthday and the oldest was 57. 

Numbers released from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner show 25 people accidentally overdosed on drugs last year — an increase of five people from two years ago.

Of those deaths, powerful pain killer fentanyl — which has claimed thousands of lives across Canada — contributed to seven deaths. 

Carfentanil, which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, was a factor in one death.

In some overdoses, more than one drug contributed to the death. Here's a breakdown: 

  • Oxycodone: 9
  • Morphine: 7
  • Fentanyl: 7
  • Methadone: 7
  • Hydromorphone: 2
  • Carfentanil: 1

Numbers provided by Dr. Simon Avis, chief medical examiner, to CBC News show nine people died as the result of taking a single opiate.

Six opiates contributed to 25 deaths in Newfoundland and Labrador last year. In many cases, they were mixed with other drugs like cocaine and alcohol. (CBC News Graphics)

Ten people died after taking a combination of opiates and cocaine, while three people were killed after mixing alcohol and opiates.

Two people died after ingesting a cocktail of different opiates, and one person died by mixing Carfentanil and methamphetamine. 

Of those who died, 17 were men and eight were women. They ranged between the ages of 22 and 57.

Broken down by region:

  • St. John's-metro area: 15
  • Central Newfoundland: 4
  • West coast Newfoundland: 2
  • Avalon Peninsula: 2
  • Labrador: 2

Health Minister John Haggie said in an interview Tuesday that, in addition to overdose deaths, 57 people were hospitalized last year for overdosing. 

Numbers from the Chief Medical Examiner show 17 men and eight women died of accidental drug overdoses in 2017. (CBC News Graphics)

However, Haggie acknowledged that there are likely many more that go undetected after they use naloxone kits at home.


Ariana Kelland

Investigative reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. She is working as a member of CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit.