Twenty six people died in Campbell River in 2021 due to overdoses, in the deadliest year since 2016.
In a report published on Feb. 9, the B.C. Coroners Service said that a total 1,782 people died due to illicit drug overdose in the province in 2021. That category includes street drugs (controlled and illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine and illicit fentanyl, among others), medications that are not prescribed to the person using them, and a combination of the two.
The report includes data on the death rate per 100,000 person-years. The rate in the greater Campbell River area has risen from 33.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016 to 55.0 in 2021.
Nearby communities saw increases as well. In 2016 the Comox Valley reported 15.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, which increased to 46.9 in 2021. Vancouver Island North also saw an increase from 8.5 in 2016 to 41.6 in 2021. However the report says that “due to small numbers of deaths and population size rates in LHAs (Local Health Areas), rates may be difficult to interpret.”
Provincially, most of the illicit drug toxicity deaths (83 per cent) occurred inside, with 56 per cent in private residences, and 28 per cent in other buildings. Most (71 per cent) were aged 30-59, 38 per cent of deaths were people over 50 years old, and 78 per cent of deaths were male.
The report also says that no deaths were reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites, and there was no indication that the prescribed safe supply is contributing to illicit drug deaths.
Of the drugs noted by coroners as being related to the cause of death, illicit fentanyl and its analogues were involved in 86.7 per cent of deaths. Fentanyl became the leading drug in overdoses in 2015, and has remained such ever since.
The full report can be found on the B.C. Coroners Service website.