Throughout 2021, toxic drugs claimed the lives of 2,224 British Columbians, setting a record high for the province.
According to data from the B.C. Coroners Service, 215 people were killed by toxic drug overdoses in B.C. in December, the highest monthly total for the entirety of 2021. September had the fewest number of drug deaths throughout the year, at 153.
“The number of people who died from the toxic drug supply last year is unacceptable and we must do more to prevent this tragic loss of life. While the Province is adding new services and supports to our health-care system each week, B.C. faces a rising tide of need,” said a statement from Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
Throughout 2021, fentanyl has been detected in 83% of drug-related fatalities, compared to 85% in 2020.
“We must reduce the fear and shame that leads so many to hide their drug use, avoid services and use deadly drugs alone. Addiction is not a choice, it’s a health condition. That’s why we continue to push Health Canada to approve our exemption so we can implement decriminalization of people who use drugs throughout B.C.,” said the statement.
In the East Kootenay, 22 people died from toxic drugs in 2021, with 29 people dying in the Kootenay Boundary region.
Five people died in the Kootenay Boundary in December. Meanwhile, toxic drugs killed one person in the East Kootenay.
More: Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths in BC (B.C. Coroners Service)