The vast majority of fatal overdose victims in B.C. are men, and they’re much more likely to die after using drugs at home and alone, according to a new coroner’s report.
The review of 872 illicit drug overdose deaths in 2016 and 2017 found that 81 per cent of victims were male, and two-thirds overdosed alone, inside a private residence.
“We continue to urge those using substances to plan to take them in the company of someone who can provide help: administering naloxone and calling 911 for assistance,” chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a news release.
“Illicit drugs continue to be the source of more than three deaths per day in B.C.”
The report puts the lie to any stereotypes suggesting B.C.’s overdose crisis mainly affects people living on the streets of Vancouver’s impoverished Downtown Eastside.
Only nine per cent of those who died were homeless, and 13 per cent lived in social housing or single-room occupancy hotels. Just under half were employed at the time of death.
The report identifies several other common threads that weave together many recent overdose deaths in B.C.
That includes mental illness and pain — more than half of those who died had reported a mental health diagnosis or showed evidence of a disorder, and about the same percentage reported pain-related issues.
It also includes employment sector. About a quarter of all deaths involved people who worked in the trades or transportation.
Most overdose victims were regular or chronic users of illicit drugs, and two-thirds had never been married.
Fentanyl continues to be a major factor in B.C.’s ongoing crisis; and was detected in connection with more than three quarters of all deaths.