Benzodiazepines found in 55 fatal overdoses in July as contamination mounts in B.C.

published on September 23, 2022 by Jon Hernandez in CBC News

The memory might be hazy, but Hugh Lampkin says he will never forget the day he unwittingly took benzodiazepine in a desperate attempt to alleviate severe pain in his back.

He thought he was taking heroin, before collapsing head-first onto a steel safe in a back room at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users headquarters on East Hastings Street.

“I knocked myself out because I fell down and hit my head,” said Lampkin, a VANDU board member. “I don’t know what I was doing back there, I couldn’t tell you.”

In the two years since, he’s managed to evade drugs tainted with benzodiazepines — but many others haven’t.

Benzodiazepine, a prescription sedative often used to treat anxiety, is becoming increasingly common in B.C.’s illicit drug market, having been detected in 55 of the 192 fatal overdoses in July, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Detection rates among all tested drugs jumped from 15 to 52 per cent between January 2020 and January 2022

View the full article