There have been 371 drug deaths so far this year in B.C. – an increase of 74 per cent. In Chilliwack there have been two.

There have been 371 drug deaths so far this year in B.C. – an increase of 74 per cent. In Chilliwack there have been two.

Chilliwack overdose deaths lower than provincial trend

There were two drug overdose deaths in Chilliwack during the first half of this year, the B.C. Coroner Service reported Wednesday.

There were two drug overdose deaths in Chilliwack during the first half of this year, the B.C. Coroner Service reported Wednesday.

They were part of the 371 drug deaths that occurred in B.C. between January and June of this year.

Neighboring Abbotsford recorded 16 so far this year, while Kamloops and Nanaimo – cities similar in size to Chilliwack – reported 22 and 15 deaths respectively.

The figures are the latest released by the Coroners Service, and continue to paint an alarming picture of illicit drug use in the province.

Drug overdose deaths have climbed by 74 per cent when compared to the first six months of 2015.

Chilliwack, however, appears to be bucking that trend. There were nine overdose deaths in all of 2015.

The largest numbers of total illicit drug deaths for the first six months of 2016 have been recorded in Vancouver (69), Surrey (44), Victoria (29), Kamloops (22), Kelowna (19), Abbotsford(16) and Nanaimo and Maple Ridge, both with 15.

The Fraser health region accounted for 114 deaths or 30 per cent of the provincial total.

While the 56 new overdose deaths recorded B.C.-wide in June was down slightly from this year’s worst months of January through April, the new number was still very high by historical standards.

Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe urged extreme caution for those using illegal drugs, as well as immediate action to aid anyone overdosing, including the use of naloxone, which is available in take-home kits that can quickly prevent an overdose from becoming fatal.

Drug deaths were declared a public health emergency in B.C. in April, and anxiety has grown with the arrival of emerging street drugs like W-18, which is considered much riskier even than fentanyl.

~ With Files from Jeff Nagel

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