Stock photo licensed by Victoria Buzz

Over the first seven months of 2017, fentanyl has been detected in 81% of illicit-drug overdoses in British Columbia, according to data released by the BC Coroners Service.

This represents a stark increase compared to last year, as 706 of 876 illicit drug deaths this year have had fentanyl detected.

This is a 143% increase from the same period (January-July) in 2016.

In most cases, fentanyl has also been combined with other illicit drugs, most often cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamine.

A table comparing illicit-drug deaths involving fentanyl to those without it. (BC Coroners Service)

Victoria has the third highest amount of overdose deaths in 2017, with 57. Vancouver and Surrey have the most, with 226 and 101, respectively.

Through that same time period, those aged between 30 and 59 represent the majority of deaths, accounting for 74% of incidents. Males account for 83% of deaths.

The number of illicit drug overdoses across the province in July was 91, an average of just under three per day.

A table displaying the number of illicit drug overdoses by month in British Columbia. (BC Coroners Service)

“In the majority of the deaths we’re investigating, we’re seeing fentanyl detected with other drugs. This presents huge challenges for those using illicit drugs and the risk is high,” Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement.

To date, no deaths have occured at any supervised consumption site. 90% of deaths occur indoors, with over half being in private residences.

“Although it’s heartening to see a decline in deaths month-to-month since March, we continue to see far too many deaths in our communities,” Lapointe also said. “As in previous months, most deaths occur indoors, in many cases when people are using alone and without the ability to get help.”

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