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HomeNewsWe've done a lot of important work: Northern Health on overdoses

We’ve done a lot of important work: Northern Health on overdoses

Preliminary data from the BC Coroners Service shows there were 56 deaths caused by illicit drug overdoses in the Northern Health Authority in 2017.

That number has continued to rise since 2009 and has more than doubled from what the total was in 2015.

Overdose deaths per 100,000 for last year is significantly lower than what the rest of the province’s health authorities saw at 19.8, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are less people using drugs.

“There’s no reason to think that we have fewer people who use drugs per capita than the rest of the province,” explains Northern Health’s Dr. Andrew Gray.

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“The same factors that contribute to addiction in terms of physical and psychological pain and stigma, so I’m not sure why there would be fewer deaths per capita in the north than there would be elsewhere, it might just be luck.”

Despite the continuous increase in deaths, Dr. Gray is adamant Northern Health is working hard to keep the number as low as possible.

“I think we’ve done a lot of important work. We’ve definitely been getting the word out, we’ve made take home naloxone much more accessible than it was at the beginning of this overdose emergency,” he says.

“We’ve been investing in increasing access to treatment, but there is still a lot more that we need to do on all of these fronts.”

Dr. Gray says the biggest change and likely the reason for the number of deaths rising is the unreliable black market opioid situation.

He also mentions the underlying issue as to why users continue to put themselves at risk is physical or mental pain and that the need to connect with people at risk continues to be a priority.

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