Social Awareness

Overdose fatalities are getting younger as the drug supply becomes more hazardous

After evaluating 6,007 overdose fatalities, the British Columbia study establishes response timelines of 30-90 days.

According to a recent analysis by the B.C. Coroners Service that examines four years of illicit drug-related deaths, the province’s increasingly hazardous supply is leading to rising mortality, and efforts to restrict illegal narcotics are simply exacerbating the situation.

The report, titled B.C. Coroners Service Death Review Panel: A Review of Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths, examined 6,007 illicit drug toxicity deaths between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2021.

It requests that the province adopt a strategy to distribute a safer supply of pharmaceuticals and provide improved health services, with a plan to take action within the next 90 days.

“”Although a number of provincial initiatives have been launched in an attempt to address the drug toxicity crisis, these initiatives have not been adequate to halt the mounting death toll, A new approach is needed, one that focuses specifically on the dangerous drug supply.”

according to the report.

According to the coroner, illicit drug poisoning is the biggest cause of unnatural death in British Columbia, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, motor vehicle accidents, drownings, and fire-related deaths combined.

When the potent drug fentanyl caused a spike in mortality in April 2016, British Columbia declared a public health emergency. Since then, more over 8,800 people in British Columbia have died from suspected lethal overdoses.

There were 2,224 suspected overdose deaths in the province in 2021, a 26% increase from the previous year.

According to the latest data, deaths from illegal drug-related overdoses are increasing in both number and rate, the drug supply has become more toxic, and the average age of death is trending younger. It has now reached 42.

6 people are killed every day.

According to the new data, six individuals die in the province every day as a result of illicit substances.

Indigenous peoples are disproportionately represented in fatalities, and people living in poverty, with housing instability, or with poor mental health are especially vulnerable, according to the report.
Several recommendations are made in the report, including ensuring a safer medicine supply and having provincial ministries involved in the crisis prepare 30-, 60-, and 90-day action plans to enable better monitoring of how and why deaths occur, as well as plans to remedy them.
The study set a May 9 deadline for the government to develop a safer supply policy in partnership with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use.
“We recognise that many of the timelines in the report are aggressive, but COVID-19 has demonstrated how quickly policymakers can act when lives are at stake, and we know that every month of inaction equals to hundreds more lives lost,” the report’s authors, including death review panel chair”
Michael Egilson, said.
The panel was assigned by the chief coroner and consisted of experts in public health, health services, substance use and addiction, medicine, mental health, Indigenous health, education, financial assistance, oversight and regulation, and policing. 
Each of the panel’s recommendations has been forwarded to the appropriate ministries and organisations by Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.
“As we approach the 6th anniversary of the declaration of a public-health emergency regarding substance-related harms,” Lapointe said in a release, “coordinated, immediate action is required to mitigate the destruction illicit drugs have caused on so many people in our province.”
“A path is provided in this study by a panel of subject-matter experts. It is my genuine hope that their suggestions will be implemented.”
A similar evaluation published in 2018 advised expanding treatment and rehabilitation programmes, extending programmes that provide prescription medication to those who are addicted, and doing more drug testing.
The number of deaths began to fall in 2019, but officials say it increased again during the COVID-19 epidemic as more individuals were confined in their homes and the illicit drug supply became more hazardous.

This release is articulated by Prittle Prattle News in the form of an authored article.

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