A nalaxone kit. (Black Press Media)

A nalaxone kit. (Black Press Media)

BC Coroners Service reports 169 deaths due to toxic drugs in August

A toxic drug supply killed 169 people in British Columbia over the month of August, according to the latest update from the BC Coroners Service.

It is a 12 per cent decrease from the 193 deaths reported in July, and a 14 per cent decrease from August 2021.

In the first eight months of 2022, 1,468 deaths have been reported, one less death than the same time last year, which set a grim record for drug poisoning deaths.

In the East Kootenay, nine deaths have been reported between Jan. – Aug. 2022, six of which were in Cranbrook, according to the coroners update.

“The illicit drug market continues to pose immense risks to people across our province,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “People in communities across B.C. are continuing to lose friends, family members and colleagues to the unprecedented toxicity of the unregulated drug supply. I extend my sincere condolences to all of those grieving the loss of a loved one.”

The Coroners Service says fentanyl has been detected in 81 per cent of illicit toxic drug deaths this year.

Additionally, the defection rate of benzodiazepines increased from 15 per cent of samples in July 2020 to 52 per cent of samples in Jan. 2022. That has fallen to approximately 22 per cent in August 2022.

Further, etizolam was found in 38 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths between July 2020 and August 2022. According to the Coroners Service, etizolam is a benzodiazepines analogue and non-opioid sedative that does not respond to naloxone.