Nov 15, 2020
By Jeremy Logan
Jurisdictions across the country have reported an increase in overdose deaths tied to opioids during the COVID-19 pandemic, a stark reversal of a decline in fatal opioid overdoses between 2018 and 2019.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says British Columbia alone saw more than 100 “illicit toxicity deaths” each month between March and August, with the death toll breaching 175 in May, June and July.
Experts say Canada’s ongoing border shutdown has disrupted the supply chain of illicit drugs, making substances more ripe for contamination with toxic additives by dealers looking to stretch their products.
Social isolation tends to worsen addiction, and makes it more likely that someone using drugs will overdose with nobody around to help.
And overdose prevention sites trying to observe physical-distancing rules can serve fewer people.
Dr. Alexis Crabtree of the University of British Columbia says many have found it disheartening how quickly governments reacted to COVID-19 while moving much more slowly to help people who use drugs.