Ambulance respond to an alleged overdose in West Kelowna. (Laryn Gilmour/Black Press Media)

Interior Health asks users to check drugs as carfentanil found in 15% of B.C. overdoses

Region saw 11 overdoses in January 2019

As illicit drug use continues to be a public health emergency across British Columbia, Interior Health is asking people to be cautious if using and always have another person with you, in case of an overdose.

In figures released Tuesday, the BC Coroners Service says 85 per cent of deaths happen inside, and none have been reported at a safe consumption site.

The agency said 90 people died of illicit drug overdoses in January across B.C., with 11 of those deaths in the Interior Health region.

READ MORE: Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January, says B.C. Coroner

Since fentanyl, or the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, mixed in with weaker drugs are the reason behind so many overdoses, the health authority is recommending people make use of drug checking services.

Drug checking is offered by a variety of harm reduction service providers across the region. It is done by appointment as well as drop-ins at some locations.

“Anyone who uses illicit substances is at risk of being exposed to fentanyl or other deadly substances which may cause an overdose,” said communications consultant Haley Allen.

READ MORE: There have been 1,380 overdose deaths in B.C. this year: Coroner

According to Interior Health, the Okanagan region has several harm reduction locations in the region and people can visit towardtheheart.com to find information about services near them.

READ MORE: Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

The BC Coroners Service said there were 1,489 suspected drug overdose deaths across B.C. last year, and 231 across the Interior Health area.


@LarynGilmour
laryn.gilmour@blackpress.ca

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