FILE - This Friday, June 1, 2018, file photo, shows syringes of the opioid painkiller fentanyl in an inpatient pharmacy. A new report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy says 1,565 people died in the state from drug overdoses in 2017. That’s an 11.5 percent increase from 2016. More than half of the overdose deaths in 2017 were caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

New data on the number of opioid-related deaths across Canada is offering insight on how unpredictable the crisis is – predominantly in the western regions.

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, according to a statement by the Public Health Agency of Canada Tuesday.

Of those deaths, 94 per cent have been deemed unintentional or accidental.

“Tragically, that now means that more than 8,000 Canadians lost their lives between January 2016 and March 2018,” the statement said. In 2016, roughly 3,000 Canadians died of opioid overdoses followed by 4,000 dying last year.

The federal advisory committee focused on the epidemic of opioid overdoses nation-wide also released an epidemiological study, which looks at the profile of people dying this way.

While historically overdose deaths tended to be concentrated among people who had consumed drugs over a prolonged period of time, the new profile has revealed a wide spectrum – one that includes first-time drug users and those suffering from chronic pain.

The new data also showed that Western Canada continues to see the brunt of the overdose crisis, particularly B.C. and Alberta. In the first three months of the year, 391 people died in the province. From January until July, 878 have died.

Overdose deaths by city
Infogram


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