Norman Ayles, right, learned how to give a Naloxone injection to someone suffering from an opioid overdose, from Lookout Housing and Health Society staffer Levi Epp, left, at a 2019 overdose prevention event in Langley City. (Langley Advance Times files)

Norman Ayles, right, learned how to give a Naloxone injection to someone suffering from an opioid overdose, from Lookout Housing and Health Society staffer Levi Epp, left, at a 2019 overdose prevention event in Langley City. (Langley Advance Times files)

Drug deaths drop by half in Langley

The total number of lethal overdoses remains higher than before the crisis began

The number of drug deaths in Langley fell by more than half last year, but numbers were still higher than they were in the years before a provincial health emergency was declared in 2016.

In 2019, 16 people died of illicit drug toxicity deaths in Langley.

That’s a sharp decline from the 33 who died in 2018, and the peak of 36 deaths in 2017.

But in 2013 to 2015, deaths were never higher than 10 per year. As recently as 2009 and 2010, there were only two to three overdose or drug toxicity deaths per year in Langley.

Langley remains among the communities with the highest number of drug deaths in B.C., at 13th spot. Vancouver had the most deaths in 2019, at 210, followed by Surrey at 105.

B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe noted that the 981 deaths province-wide last year represents a 36 per cent decrease from 2018, but the number is still almost identical to the number of those who died in 2016, the year the health emergency was declared.

Lapointe called for improved access to a regulated, safer drug supply in the province to end the high number of deaths.

“More than 5,000 lives have been lost in B.C. since 2016 as a result of illicit drug toxicity. These deaths have deeply hurt families and communities across our province and represent an immense loss of potential in all walks of life,” said Lapointe. “The number of illicit drug toxicity deaths in 2019 remains higher than motor vehicle incidents, suicides and homicides combined, and B.C. continues to bear the heaviest toll of the impacts of the unpredictable, profit-driven, illicit drug market.”

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