As many as 2,272 British Columbians lost their lives to toxic drugs in 2022, according to the latest report by the Government of BC.
This is the second-largest total ever in a calendar year, BC says, and only 34 fewer than the 2,306 deaths reported to the agency in 2021. Drugs were responsible for an average of 189 deaths per month in 2022, or 6.2 lost lives each and every day.
The final number for 2022 will almost certainly increase as investigations are completed and final causes of death are established. While the Vancouver Centre-North Local Health Authority (which includes the city’s Downtown Eastside area) recorded the largest number of deaths last year(319), that accounts for only 14% of the number of lives lost.
Record high rates were also recorded in Northern Health (59.5), Interior Health (46) and Island Health (43.6), with Vancouver, Greater Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George and Nanaimo among townships recording more illicit drug-related deaths in 2022 than in any previous year.
“British Columbians across the province are continuing to experience tremendous harm and loss as a result of the province’s toxic illicit drug supply,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “Our province continues to lose an average of six lives every day, and many more people experience serious health consequences as a result of the unpredictable, unregulated drug supply. Death due to drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in British Columbia, and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.”