A woman, left, prepares to inject herself with an unknown substance as a man sits in a wheelchair outside Insite, the supervised consumption site, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman, left, prepares to inject herself with an unknown substance as a man sits in a wheelchair outside Insite, the supervised consumption site, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. street drugs poisoned with benzos could lead to ‘catastrophic’ overdoses: advocate

Public Safety Ministry says drugs containing benzodiazepines were detected in 51% of deaths in February

A drug policy adviser to the City of Vancouver is warning of a dangerous drug saturating British Columbia’s illicit supply in much the same way fentanyl did several years ago.

Karen Ward says benzodiazepines, or benzos, make overdoses more complex because they are often combined with opioids but do not respond to naloxone, an overdose-reversing treatment.

Figures released Thursday by the BC Coroners Service show 158 people died from toxic drugs last month, pushing the total number of deaths linked in the province’s overdose crisis to 498 since the start of the year.

It says in a joint statement with the Public Safety Ministry the deaths in March are a 41 per cent increase over the 112 fatalities recorded in the same period last year.

The deaths also mark the third consecutive month that more than five people died every day from illicit drug use in the province.

The service says the use of tranquilizing drugs containing benzodiazepines was detected in 51 per cent of deaths in February.

RELATED: B.C. nears 500 fatal overdoses in 1st quarter of 2021; 158 deaths in March

“They’re very potent and now we’re finding they have just saturated basically the entire drug supply in much the same way fentanyl did several years ago,” Ward said, adding the drug knocks people unconscious for long periods of time.

“When combined with an opiate, it can produce a very, very serious overdose, a catastrophic overdose because you’re down and because it’s not an opiate, so naloxone has no effect on it,” Ward said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

B.C. overdoses

Just Posted

Environment Canada predicts mainly sunny weather for the weekend, with highs of 24 C. (The News files)
Sunny weekend in forecast for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Highs of 24 predicted for both Saturday and Sunday

Nicholas Williamson Sr. and Nicholas Garnett Williamson Jr, during the Second World War (circa 1940). (Special to The News) 20110-MRN-RememberingWilliamsonTradition https://blackpress.newsengin.com/gps2/image.php?fileID=files-2525998
LETTER: Pandemic fight in stark contrast to Second World War unity, Maple Ridge man says

What if people of the Allied nations thought only of themselves during battle to defeat Hitler?

The draw for May’s Shop Local & Win contest takes place June 4, 2021. (Special to The News)
Open your wallet close to home and win

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce hosts shop local competition

Brian Malfesi and his partner Vincent Jourdenais have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge kayak racer qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Malfesi is first B.C. sprint paddler to race for Team Canada at Olympics in 33 years

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chamber of commerce for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hosts Conservative leader

Erin O’Toole and MP Dalton part of online Zoom meeting on Monday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Most Read