June Overdose Toll Hits Record; 15 Times More Deadly than COVID-19

published on July 16, 2020 by Moira Wyton in The Tyee

B.C. has recorded back-to-back record months for drug overdose deaths, with June claiming 175 lives and surpassing May’s previous record of 171 fatal overdoses.

And every one of the deaths could have been prevented if governments dealt with drug use as a health issue, said Dr. Perry Kendall, former provincial health officer and co-interim executive director at the BC Centre on Substance Use.

“That each one of these deaths was entirely preventable makes this emergency all the more tragic.”

Pandemic disruptions to cross-border supply chains have caused the street supply of illicit drugs to become increasingly toxic. About 15 per cent of deaths in June involved fentanyl concentrations, compared with eight per cent in January.

Kendall said growing concern about COVID-19 resulted in the elimination of many supports for people who use drugs, and resulted in some users not seeking support at all…

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