The Fraser Health Authority issued a warning Friday after officials saw a “notable” increase in the number of suspected drug overdose deaths.
“There is a hidden epidemic, with nearly 70 per cent of overdose deaths in Fraser Health occurring at home,” said chief medical health officer Dr. Victoria Lee. The next most common places were hotels and motels.
Between Surrey and Hope, the region saw 17 people die of suspected illicit drug overdose over the past week.
READ MORE: He has rescued more than 100 from overdose
“Our message to people who use drugs is that we recognize that stigma and shame can prevent you from reaching out to others about your drug use and this can be lethal,” a statement from Fraser Health reads. “We encourage you to reach out and talk with a family member, a friend, or a trusted health professional – we want you to stay alive.”
Staff in the region’s hospital emergency rooms are starting to identify people who may be at risk, and offer supports such as Suboxone, an opioid replacement therapy.
They are also following up with all patients who overdosed at home within 48 hours of being discharged from the ER.
Illicit drug overdoses killed a record 914 people in B.C. last year.