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

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP, says it’s important for the various detachments in the area to have a co-operative working relationship in an effort to keep the South Cariboo safe. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
District-wide effort to keep South Cariboo safe

RCMP detachments collaborate, offer resources to tackle crime

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
Drier weather good for calving season in spring

This dry weather has allowed us to have our cows in a treed pasture

The District of 100 Mile House office. (File photo)
Tax rate for 100 Mile residents dips slightly

Average house assessment up, tax rate down

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ‘cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

Most Read