Editorial: No easy answers for drug crisis

Opioid crisis will be with us for a long time

There was some good news out of the report the B.C. Coroners Service released Jan. 31., that overdose deaths declined in the last quarter of 2017 compared to 2016.

Related: More than 1,400 people in B.C. died of drug overdoses in 2017

There were 99 deaths last December, compared to 164 the previous year. But that’s about all the good news. Overall, 2017 was the deadliest year for overdose deaths B.C. has ever seen, with 1,422 deaths compared to 914 in 2016.

In the majority of those deaths, 81 per cent, the synthetic opioid, fentanyl played a part. That’s an increase over 2016 again, when the figure was estimated at 67 per cent.

That many deaths makes you question just how much fentanyl is in circulation, how many other overdoses there were that didn’t result in death, via the timely application of naloxone or other lifesaving measures.

Overdose deaths have been on the rise since 2008, when there were less than 200 deaths. Over the last three years, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the numbers have climbed dramatically.

Related: Penticton group, IH eyeing overdose prevention site

The downward trend towards the end of last year is positive, even indicative that current measures are working. But it’s way too early for governments and non-government organizations to relax.

The size of this crisis is overwhelming, and spreads throughout society thanks to years of over-prescribing painkillers creating addicts in neighborhoods from the poorest to the richest.

Making naloxone kits available is really only a stopgap measure to prevent overdose deaths; it’s dealing with the problem at the end of the line. Any lasting solution to stopping this waste of human life is going to have to take place earlier, and it is going to require a massive co-ordinated effort: reduce the amount of drugs on the street, prevent people from falling into drug abuse on the first place and especially, make addiction treatment easier to access than the drugs.

Just Posted

Air support grounded as fires fill the skies with smoke

Heavy smoke throughout the region thwarted efforts of BC Wildfire Saturday, as… Continue reading

Smokey skies don’t dampen spirits at Between the Lakes Pow Wow

Annual Between the Lakes Pow Wow celebrations for the children

Residents raise concerns over Penticton Speedway zoning definition

A public information session will occur sometime in the next month

Evacuation alerts in place for south of Keremeos, Hedley and Princeton

More evacuation alerts - south of Keremeos - were issued Saturday afternoon… Continue reading

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Meet Your Farmer: Ambercott Acres

This week, a look at the permaculture Ambercott Acres farm, from Cawston, BC

Trans Canada Highway opened again near Sicamous

Motor vehicle incident on Highway 1 between Sicamous and Malakwa closed road after 6 p.m.

West Kelowna wildfire evacuation alert rescinded

Alert rescinded Saturday for properties near four lakes within the Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Key to the SOEC 2017 winner grateful for experience

Petersen discusses what it’s like to win a year of free concerts at the SOEC

Most Read