Maple Ridge continues to have some of the lowest numbers of fatal overdoses when compared to 15 other B.C. cities.
After having the second lowest number in the first quarter of this year, with six deaths, Maple Ridge again had the second-lowest number of fatalities from illicit drugs, as of the end of September.
B.C. Coroner’s Service stats show that 2o people died in Maple Ridge from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 this year. Only Coquitlam had fewer deaths, at 17.
In all of last year, 31 people in Maple Ridge died from overdoses.
Vancouver had the largest number of fatalities from street drugs from January to September, at 297, with Surrey having the second-largest, at 162.
In all, a total of 1,143 people have died across B.C. from illicit drug overdoses from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30.
And in September alone, there were 128 suspected overdose deaths, a 38-per-cent increase over the same month last year.
The Coroner’s Service report says that fentanyl was present in 84 per cent of illicit drug deaths in 2017 and 2018.
Most of the deaths have occurred indoors, (private residences and other indoor locations) rather than outside, according to the B.C. Coroner’s Service.
Only 13 per cent of the deaths in 2018 occurred in vehicles, parks or on the street, while there were no deaths at supervised drug consumption sites.
Most overdoses also occurred in the three days after monthly income assistance payments were received. Men accounted for 80 per cent of the overdoses, while most deaths occurred on Saturdays compared to any other day of the week.
Earlier this year, the Ridge Meadows Overdose Community Action Team, formerly the Maple Ridge opioid working group, received funding of $100,000 from Mental Health and Addictions to help fight addiction and overdoses.
Maple Ridge was one of 18 in the province that received the funding after applying earlier this year.
The grant money was announced last February, when the ministry announced a community action team for Maple Ridge because of the number of overdoses in the city.
The money will be used life-saving responses, early intervention and to help people access evidenced-based, proactive treatment.
Each community action team will work with health authority regional response team to identify the most effective overdose prevention for each city, while sharing lessons learned with the province.
Community action teams focus on:
• expanding community-level overdose prevention services;
• ensuring the availability of naloxone wherever needed;
• addressing the toxic drug supply through expanded drug-checking services;
• increasing connections to addiction treatment medications;
•proactively supporting people at risk of overdose by intervening early to provide treatment and housing;
• raising community awareness of overdose risk and strategies to increase safety.