Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. It was one of the images used in a movie and panel discussion in Maple Ridge in February by the group Moms Stop The Harm – a network of mothers and families whose loved ones have died from substance use. (THE NEWS – files)

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. It was one of the images used in a movie and panel discussion in Maple Ridge in February by the group Moms Stop The Harm – a network of mothers and families whose loved ones have died from substance use. (THE NEWS – files)

REFLECTIONS 2020: Drug overdose epidemic made worse by pandemic

Ridge Meadows RCMP, Alouette addictions issued warnings about toxic drug supply

While the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, B.C. was actually hit even harder in 2020 by the plague of opioid overdoses.

On the Monday before Christmas, the BC Coroner’s service issued a warning of extreme cauction due to increasingly toxic illicit drugs in the province.

Five people per day have been losing their lives across the province. Maple Ridge is on a tragic pace to have its deadliest year ever.

The coroner’s warning came on the heels of 153 fatal overdoses in November – an increase of 89 per cent over the 81 in November of 2019.

In Maple Ridge, there have been 31 overdose deaths in 2020 through November, compared with 13 in all of 2019. The most deadly year ever was 33 in 2016 in the city.

“Tragically, as we reach the end of 2020, our province is facing a record-breaking year for lives lost due to a toxic illicit drug supply,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. “In the five years of this public health emergency, more than 6,500 families have experienced the grief and sadness of losing a loved one to the challenging medical condition of drug addiction. I extend my sincere condolences to all of those grieving a family member, friend or colleague due to this disease.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP reported in early July they had responded to five reports of overdoses in a space of just two days, and pleaded with drug users to be more aware of the dangers.

By the end of May, the city had already surpassed the number of overdose deaths from the previous year.

People like Doug Sabourin, Alouette Addictions acting executive director, were sounding the alarm about an increasingly deadly street drugs.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, as drug users who have been taught not to use alone found themselves socially isolating to protect themselves from COVID.

Province wide there were 983 overdose deaths in 2019, and the B.C. passed that number in August. Paramedics were responding to 87 calls to overdoses every day through the month of July. Extreme concentrations of the deadly drug fentanyl have been blamed by the BC Coroners Service.

READ ALSO: Police bust fentanyl supply chain, netting drugs, firearms, in Victoria and Lower Mainland

Ridge Meadows RCMP managed to take a significant amount of fentanyl off the street, as the detachment celebrated its largest ever seizure in August – it included more than 35,000 doses of suspected blue fentanyl, which had been linked to overdose deaths in the Lower Mainland.

Still, the grim statistics have been mounting. Through November there have been 1,548 deaths in B.C. in 2020, which is on pace to be the worst year ever, when there were 1,549 illicit drug toxicity deaths in B.C. in 2018.

The grim statistics continue to mount, as the overdose statistics for the final month of the year seem fated to make this the province’s and perhaps the city’s worst year ever.


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

maple ridgeoverdose crisisPitt Meadows

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Prep teacher Ola Cholewa shows local environmentalist Jack Emberly posters that students from the Fish Ladder Awareness Team made to promote a fish ladder along the Alouette River. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
New club in fight for fish ladder in Maple Ridge

The Environmental School club creating awareness about the need for a fish ladder on the Alouette

Keith Kartzewski captured a fogbow, when fog refracts light in the shape of a rainbow but without the bright colours. This was taken in Pitt Meadows Feb. 19, 2021. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Fogbow photographed in Pitt Meadows

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

The Pitt Meadows Art Gallery will be running a photography exhibition through February and March.
Pitt Meadows Art Gallery featuring photography

Pros and amateurs submitted their images on a variety of themes

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

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

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Most Read