drug overdose and addiction

Campbell River: Illicit drug overdose deaths

A new report from the BC coroners service states that, as of the end of November, there were 153 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths.

The province is on the threshold of setting a new record.

North Vancouver Island

RCMP by Charles Leblanc via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

30 of these were in the North Vancouver Island Health Service Delivery area, which stretches north from Courtenay and includes rural locations like Cortes and Quadra Islands, as well as urban centres like Campbell River. 

This brings the total number of deaths in North Vancouver Island since 2016 to 153.

A little more than half (55%) of the deaths in 2020 occurred in private residences. 28% were social and supportive housing, SROs, shelters, hotels and other indoor locations. 15% in vehicles, sidewalks, streets, parks and other outside locations.  There have been no deaths reported at supervised consumption or drug overdose prevention sites. 

70% of those dying were aged 30 to 59 and 81% were males.

Campbell River Fire Department- “becoming a regular occurrence”

Campbell River Fire chief Thomas Doherty said that calls for overdoses are becoming a regular occurrence. There are times when firefighters have had to save the same drug user more than once in the same day.

“There are not enough paramedics out on the street to handle what’s going on. We’re heading in a real bad direction when it comes to the health services on the street right now, and we’re here to help and support our paramedics locally, and certainly support more resources for them, but at the same time we want to make sure we’re giving the citizens of Campbell River the best possible care that they can receive, ”he said. 

Campbell River RCMP: seeing ” .. an increase in overdose calls.”

Campbell River RCMP spokesperson, Cst. Maury Tyre, emailed Cortes Currents, “We have seen anecdotally at the RCMP level anyway, an increase in overdose calls that we are responding to and there have been near deaths and deaths, presumably related to overdose in recent weeks and months.”

“Presently in Campbell River there seems to be a batch of opiates that are a bit more potent than in the past. Users are well aware that what they are getting is Fentanyl but there has been a presence of Carfentnil in the drugs since last year. Another insert into the drugs in the last few months has been the introduction of Benzodiazapines which apparently smooth out the “high”, but seriously counter acts the Nalaxone/Narcan. We have seen people take 4-6 doses of Narcan to bring them back whereas before it was 1 or 2.”

Crime and the drug trade

There were numerous drug related crimes reported in Campbell River this year. On January 9th, ten people were charged, and charges recommended for 10 others, for trafficking. On August 30th, police responding to a noise complaint ended up arresting a 34-year-old man from Campbell River for possible drug trafficking and possession of stolen property charges. The following night, a Campbell River man was hospitalized after being attacked by two assailants with a hammer. In the arrests that followed, police seized several grams of illicit drugs as well as stolen property. 

“This is a stark reminder of the violence that follows the drug trade. The homes that house this activity are a plague on the community and the local RCMP are constantly investigating these houses,” said Cst Tyre.

Yesterday, Cst Tyre reported, “Three local women will likely be facing multiple charges of possession for the purpose of drug trafficking, after a significant stash of cocaine and cash was located in an apartment building on 7th Avenue in the early hours of December 19th, 2020. A warrant was executed the following evening at an apartment in the 800 block of 7th ave. In total over $5000 cash, over an ounce of cocaine, several grams of fentanyl, several grams of methamphetamines, and several grams of MDMA were seized. Two of the females were well known entities in the local drug trade and it’s believed the cocaine was being used to manufacture crack.”

Top photo credit: drug overdose and addiction by Marco Verch, Professional Photographer, via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

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