Overdose deaths continue to soar in B.C.

The total number of illicit drug deaths in October was 63, up from 57 in September.

The number of illicit drug overdose deaths continued to soar in B.C. over the month of October, according to the latest statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service.

The total number of illicit drug deaths in October was 63, up from 57 in September.

Fentanyl continues to be detected in about 60 per cent of fatal drug overdoses.

Although no fentanyl-related overdose deaths have been reported in Burns Lake, one death has recently been reported in Smithers.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is more addictive than heroin and potentially fatal in minutes. The substance can take the form of liquid, powder or pill, and can be masked in virtually any consumable product, including marijuana.

For the first 10 months of 2016, provisional data indicates that the total number of deaths from illicit drug overdoses was 622, compared to 397 for the same period of 2015.

Last week, B.C. premier Christy Clark led a delegation of people personally affected by overdoses to Ottawa to share their experiences and thoughts on additional actions all levels of government can take.

Health minister Terry Lake and other representatives from B.C. also attended a federal conference on opioid overdoses on Nov. 18-19 in Ottawa to discuss B.C.’s strategies and help identify additional ways forward at the national level.

While the provincial health officer always advises against the use of illicit drugs, those using illegal drugs are urged to use extreme caution. People who take illicit drugs should not use alone, should inject slowly and use supervised consumption services when possible.

People are urged to take immediate action to aid anyone overdosing, including the use of naloxone, which is available in take-home kits that can quickly prevent an overdose from becoming fatal. Call 9-1-1 at the first sign of distress, such as trouble breathing or loss of consciousness.