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Third deadliest year for drug deaths in Northeast B.C. in 2022

12 deaths reported in the North Peace and 12 in the South Peace

There were at least 26 fatal drug overdoses in Northeast B.C. in 2022, according to year-end data from the BC Coroners Service released Tuesday.

That makes it the third deadliest year on record for the region over the last decade, behind a record 32 deaths recorded in 2020 and 29 in 2021.

There were 12 deaths reported in the North Peace and 12 in the South Peace. Data for the Fort Nelson region was suppressed.

The northeast recorded just six fatal overdoses a decade ago in 2012.

Across B.C., there were at least 2,272 deaths from illicit drug toxicity, according to the coroners service, an average of six a day, or 189 per month.

That's the second-largest total ever in a calendar year, and 34 fewer than the 2,306 deaths reported in 2021, the coroners service said.

Death rates were highest in the Northern Health region, at 60 per 100,000 people.

Across the north, there were 181 overdose deaths last year, including 101 in the Northern Interior — 81 in Prince George alone — and 54 deaths in the Northwest.

“The final number for 2022 will almost certainly increase as investigations are completed and final causes of death are established,” the coroners service said.

2022 Drug Deaths in Northeast B.C.

  • January - 5
  • February - 2
  • March - 1
  • April - 3
  • May - 1
  • June - 2
  • July - 1
  • August - 2
  • September - 3
  • October - 3
  • November - 1
  • December - 2

Fentanyl and its analogues have been found in 87% of the deaths in the Northern Health region, and benzodiazepines found in 32% of deaths, according to the coroners service.

And among health authorities, Northern Health has seen the second-highest percentage of other stimulants detected in drug deaths at 76%.

Close to eight of every 10 deaths from toxic drugs in B.C. are men, and most people are dying in a private residence or some other type of housing, according to the data.

The coroners service says at least 11,171 deaths have been attributed to illicit drug toxicity since a public health emergency was declared in April 2016.