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2,000 British Columbians have died from toxic drugs so far in 2023

October is also the 37th consecutive month with at least 150 deaths
The BC Coroners Service says more than 2,000 people have died in the first 10 months of 2023 due to the toxic drug supply. People carry a makeshift coffin , representing the toxic drug deaths, along Powell Street in Vancouver on April 14, 2023 during an event marking the seventh anniversary of the toxic drug supply in B.C. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

More than 2,000 people have died in the first 10 months of the year from the toxic, unregulated drug supply, according to the latest data from the BC Coroners Service.

At least 2,039 people have died this year, the data released Thursday (Nov. 30) shows. It’s the third consecutive year with more than 2,000 deaths.

In October, there were 189 overdose deaths for an average of 6.1 deaths per day. It’s also the 37th consecutive month with at least 150 deaths, which could put this year on par with the 2,377 deaths in 2022.

There was a nine-per-cent decrease in deaths in October 2023 compared to the year prior, but there was a seven-per-cent increase between September and October 2023.

The coroner’s service added that about 70 per cent of those who died were between the ages of 30 and 59. More than three-quarters of those who died were male.

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continue to experience the highest number of unregulated drug deaths, while Northern Health continues to report the highest death rate at 61 deaths per 100,000 residents this year. That’s compared to 45 provincewide.

In mid-November, Interior Health issued a drug advisory for people who use drugs that some substances being advertised as hydromorphone on the black market actually contained isotonitazine, a drug as dangerously potent as fentanyl.

READ MORE: Fake Dilaudid tablets with high overdose risk hit Interior Health region

The coroner’s service adds that through toxicological testing, the unregulated drug supply in the province remains “dangerous and volatile,” and illicit fentanyl and its analogues are present in 85 per cent of expedited test results. The fentanyl is often combined with other opioids and stimulants.

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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