Pubdate: Wed, 21 Dec 2016
Source: Victoria News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Black Press
Author: Tom Fletcher


Cold weather has meant more B.C. illicit drug users overdose alone at
home, in public washroom stalls or on deserted streets, pushing B.C.'s
highest-ever drug death total to new heights.

The isolation of drug users, and the likely introduction of even more
lethal synthetic opioids into the street drug supply, contributed to
128 B.C. overdose deaths in November, provincial health officials said
Monday. That brings the total deaths in B.C. to 755 for the year, up
70 per cent from last year, with little relief in sight for December.

"We are seeing people die with a naloxone kit open beside then, and
they haven't had time to use it," said Lisa Lapointe, B.C.'s Chief
Coroner, referring to the overdose treatment that has been made widely

By the end of December, the B.C. government expects to have 18
"overdose prevention sites" open in high-risk areas, including Surrey,
Victoria, Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Maple Ridge, Langley,
Abbotsford and Vancouver.

Health Minister Terry Lake issued an emergency order Dec. 9 to open
the new supervised sites without permission from the federal government.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall pleaded with affected
communities to stop their protests against overdose prevention sites.
The supervised sites will save lives, "and what they will not do is
bring problems into communities," because the drugs and users are
already there, Kendall said.

The potent synthetic drug fentanyl has been detected in about half of
overdose cases, and even more powerful derivatives may be coming into
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