Overdose deaths in Langley are still far higher than they were before the opioid overdose crisis began in 2016, according to numbers released this week by the B.C. Coroner’s Service.
The data, which covers deaths from Jan. 1 to May 31, includes deaths from street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and illicit fentanyl, from illegally obtained prescription medication, and from a combination of prescription and illicit drugs.
Fentanyl was detected in about 71 per cent of drug toxicity deaths so far this year.
Numbers have been jumping in B.C. compared to 2019, when they had finally started to decline.
Province-wide, there were 170 suspected drug toxicity deaths in B.C. – more deaths than have been caused here so far by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The lethal overdose numbers are up 93 per cent compared to May 2019, when 88 people died, and 44 per cent over the 118 who died in April this year.
In Langley, there have been 15 deaths so far this year, compared to 21 in 2019. Langley has the seventh-highest number of fatalities in B.C. by community.
While there is a perception that the drug deaths affect largely the homeless, the majority of those who died did so in private homes, usually their own. A total of 85 per cent of drug deaths took place inside, 57 per cent in private homes and 28 per cent in other homes, including social and supportive housing, shelters, hotels, and single-room-occupancy dwellings.
About 13 per cent were outdoors, or in vehicles.