B.C. painkiller overdoses spiked 97% to nearly five killed a day in April

published on May 31, 2017 by David P. Ball in Metro News

“It’s so demoralizing,” admitted Leslie McBain, whose son Jordan, 25, died of an illicit drug overdose three years ago. “And it’s just getting worse.”

British Columbia’s painkiller overdose epidemic has reached new grim records Wednesday, after newly released data showed its death toll this year so far is the exact same as it was by the end of September last year.

The public health emergency has so far killed 488 people between January and April this year, according to the B.C. Coroner’s Service, with April seeing a staggering 136 deaths, a dramatic 97 per cent increase from April last year.

That amounts to nearly five people killed every day on average last month.

The daily average in previous months had already risen to nearly four deaths between January and March.

“For all of us who work in advocacy for policy changes, for all the front-line workers and people doing evidence-based research to move things forward, this stops us in our tracks,” said McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm and family engagement lead at St. Paul’s Hospital’s B.C. Centre on Substance Use. “We’ve been working so hard on this especially in last year since B.C. declared an emergency. What’s making this happen? It is the black market and the war on drugs.”

The new figures come days after a 16-year-old teenager in New Westminster died from what police said was an “unknown” substance she bought from a street dealer thinking it was the popular party drug MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Another student at her high school was hospitalized from the same batch.

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