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Langley records near-record numbers of toxic drug deaths

Powerful opioids in a toxic drug supply continue to claim lives
B.C. chief coroner Lisa Lapointe provides an update on illicit drug toxicity deaths in the province during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Langley has now seen 33 deaths from drug toxicity in the first nine months of 2021, according to data released Tuesday, Nov. 9 by the BC Coroners Service.

With three months to go in the year, this is already the third-highest number of deaths Langley has seen in the last decade from overdoses and toxic drugs.

The previous worst year was 2020, when 38 people died in Langley from drug toxicity, and 36 people died in 2017.

Until 2016, when fentanyl began to appear in significant amounts in the Lower Mainland’s illicit drug supply, typically there would be five to 10 fatal overdoses per year in Langley.

The impact of illicit drug deaths was seen across B.C., according to the report.

READ ALSO: Illicit drug deaths top 1,500 in first nine months of 2021 – BC Coroners Service

About 5.5 people are dying each day so far this year in B.C. from the drug crisis.

The Coroners Service said that the death rate from illicit drug overdoses has risen to 39.4 per 100,000 residents, nearly double the rate in 2016 when a public health emergency was first declared.

Carfentanil, an analogue of fentanyl that is used in veterinary care but not humans, has been found in 137 suspected drug toxicity deaths so far this year, more than double the fatalities as in 2020.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe lauded the province’s application to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use, adding that the “death rate due to toxic drugs has never been higher,” and neither has the need for a safe supply.

“Criminalizing those who use substances has done nothing to address this complex health issue and has resulted in greater suffering and marginalization. How many more deaths are we willing to accept to maintain drug policies and laws that have no basis in evidence?”

No deaths have been reported at supervised consumption sites.

- with files from Black Press Media

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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