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EDITORIAL: A disturbing drug trend continues

The growing problem of deaths from unregulated drugs has no end in sight
(Black Press file photo)

While the calendar will soon switch to a new year, a deadly problem will certainly continue in 2024.

The growing number of deaths from unregulated drugs is a problem that has no end in sight at present.

According to statistics from the BC Coroners Service, there were 2,039 deaths in the first 10 months of 2023. This figure is higher than for the same period in any previous year on record.

These include deaths from heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and medications not prescribed to the user.

While there are some fluctuations, the number of deaths from unregulated drug use has been trending upwards since 2013. The sole exception was in 2019, when numbers showed a decrease during that year. However, the following years saw the number of deaths increase again.

At present, the death rate from unregulated drugs is 45 deaths per 100,000 individuals. That’s the highest rate recorded in this province.

The deaths this year and the previous deaths from unregulated drugs are not simply statistics. Each of these people had family and friends who are continuing to mourn their passing.

While some communities and regions have higher rates of drug-related deaths, this is a problem affecting people throughout the province.

British Columbia’s provincial government has been addressing this disturbing problem and has been working to find solutions. However, the trend continues and deaths from unregulated drugs remains a problem affecting individuals and families throughout this province.

There are no easy answers or quick fixes here.

The rising number of deaths from unregulated drugs has been a concern for more than a decade and will likely remain a significant issue in the future as well.

Acknowledging this disturbing issue and talking about drug use may be useful while efforts toward a solution continue.

— Black Press