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

The orange parcel was bought by the CRD for $1.1 million to add to Mount Work Regional Park. (CRD map)
Capital Regional District expands Mount Work land for $1.1 million

Privately-owned 13.8 hectares in the Highlands is ecologcically valuable

North Saanich has received a report from the Urban Development Institute calling on the municipality to expand and densify its housing options in the face of demographic and environmental changes as the municipality continues its Official Community Plan review. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich asked to create more affordable, diverse housing

Urban Development Institute says community faces demographic, environmental challenges

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Royal Bay pride crosswalk restored following graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Colwood high school

One woman has been arrested in connection with a drug trafficking investigation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria woman arrested, car and drugs seized during trafficking investigation

Multiple units combine forces for investigation, arrest

Victoria police retrieved a number of stolen items May 15 after arresting a man and woman squatting in an empty building. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police look to return stolen items following arrest of squatters

Golf clubs, power tools, jackets, cell phones and a MacBook Pro were retrieved

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance and later died. (Collin C photo)
UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read