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Overdose statistics – July 2017

Powell Street Getaway supervised injection service

In the photo : Reps from BC Government, Lookout Society, and VCH help open Vancouver's third supervised injection service, at the Powell Street Getaway. 

Fatal overdoses

According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to June 30, 2017 there were 780 suspected overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. 249 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including 209 in Vancouver, 15 in Richmond and 25 in Coastal Region.

There were 111 suspected drug overdose deaths in June 2017 across BC. This is a 61% increase over the number of deaths occurring in June 2016 (69 deaths).

Overdoses in VCH urban areas

From January 1 to July 31, 2017 there were 4,983 illicit or unknown drug overdoses at VCH emergency departments (ED). Opioids accounted for 33% of the visits with heroin being the most commonly reported substance. 38% of the overdose visits were due to an unknown substance. 

88% of the overdoses were seen at Vancouver EDs. The majority (74%) of them went to St. Paul's Hospital. 

The majority of overdoses occurred in males (71%) and those aged 19 to 39 years (58%). 

Of overdose patients to VCH urban EDs, 47% live in Vancouver, 3% were from Richmond, 5% were from Coastal Urban, and 2% were from Coastal Rural. The majority of Vancouver residents were from City Centre and the Downtown Eastside. The remaining patients live in other health authority regions or didn't state where they are from. 

677 illicit or unknown drug overdoses were identified in July 2017, that was a 16% decline over the average number of overdoses in the previous 3 months (802 overdoses), and 25% increase over the number of overdoses in July 2016 (542 overdoses).


From January 1 to July 31, 2017, there were 75,681 visits to the injection room at Insite. Among those, 1.4% visits resulted in an overdose. 10,156 visits used the injection room in July 2017, that was 7.1% decrease over the average number of visits in the previous 3 months (10,931) visits), and 24% decrease over the number of visits in July 2016 (13,448 visits). 120 visits resulted in an overdose in July 2017, which declined 16% compared to the average overdoses during the previous 3 months (143 overdoses), and 145% increase over the number of visits in July 2016 (49 overdoses).

Overdose Prevention Sites

Since December 2016, six overdose prevention sites opened in Vancouver, five of them are still operating. From December to July 31, 2017 there were 147,705 visits. 770 overdoses were reversed. 

In July alone, there were 21,070 visits with 137 overdose reversals, that was a 22% decrease in visits and a 38% increase in overdose reversals over the average number in the previous 3 months (99 overdoses).

Overdoses in VCH rural areas

In VCH rural hospitals (Bella Coola General Hospital, RW Large Memorial Hospital, Sechelt Hospital, and Powell River General Hospital) OD from January 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017, 56 overdoses were reported, of which 45% were opioid related. The majority of ODs (75%) were reported from Sechelt Hospital.

What's happening

Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care are extremely concerned about the high number of overdoses and overdose deaths in our region and throughout the province and continue to take steps to respond. VCH & PHC and its partners are taking a number of steps to reduce opioid/fentanyl-related overdoses, including new actions this month:

The Real-time Drug Alert and Response System (RADAR) has issued its first bad batch of drugs alert. The new system launched in July, and allows anyone to report, either via texting or a website, overdoses that show unusual symptoms so that warnings about bad batches of drugs can be circulated largely. 

  • Equipped more sites with take-home naloxone kits for distribution, to a total of 110 sites.

  • Held more than 9 overdose prevention and how to use naloxone training sessions. Total of 187 sessions to date. 

  • Equipped 30 more locations, to a total of 193, with a Facility Overdose Response Box (FORB). 

  • Held a media event, with BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy, to open Powell Street Getaway as a supervised injection service.

  • Trained and oriented staff at the Powell Street Getaway, in light of its switch from overdose prevention site to a supervised injection service. 

  • Renovations continue at Crosstown Clinic to create capacity for additional participants in the injectable opioid agonist therapy (iOAT) program. 

Presented at the International Nursing Conference on the  overdose crisis.

SOURCE: Overdose statistics – July 2017 ( )
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