According to the B.C. Coroners Service, overdoses claimed 1,208 lives on the streets of B.C. between January and October.
That’s almost double the same period in 2016 when there were 683 deaths. And, if you haven’t guessed where this is leading already, fentanyl played a big part in that increase. The Coroners Service says the drug was detected in 999 of the confirmed and suspected overdose deaths.
That’s with three months to go in 2017. That’s not a crisis, that’s a full-blown disaster.
Almost 1,000 people overdosing on the same drug tells us we have a big problem with drug use in this province. According to the numbers, it’s growing, not decreasing. That means that despite more than a year’s talking and public worrying about the “opioid crisis” we’re still not doing enough to stem the tide.
There is always going to be some out there that say ‘Who cares?’ along with a comment about how society is better off without them. The quick answer to that is a community that doesn’t care about its weakest members isn’t deserving of the name.
The truth of the matter is that this isn’t just affecting street people and drug addicts. It’s happening in nice neighbourhoods around B.C. too, as people get addicted to their prescription painkillers.
There are no easy answers that are going to make the problem go away. Even removing fentanyl as a prescription drug is unlikely to have much of an effect, since the supply of it and other opioids have long since escaped the bounds of the pharmacy.
It is clear that the government needs to focus more resources on the problem. Making naloxone kits easily available only helps reduce the number of overdose deaths, it doesn’t eliminate the problem of opioid addiction.
Until this problem is dealt with it will continue to grow.