Eight people in Kelowna died of an illegal drug overdose in January, according to the BC Coroners Service.
The number was equal to those who died of illegal drugs in all of 2012.
Across the entire Interior Health region, there were 37 illegal drug overdose deaths in January. Fourteen of those deaths were in the Okanagan. Specific numbers for Okanagan communities other than Kelowna were not available.
Throughout BC, there were 207 deaths due to illegal drug overdoses. That is the third-highest number ever recorded in a single month, the BC Coroners Service says.
The highest death rate, “by far” is in the Northern Health Authority, the service says, where there were 19 illegal drug overdoses.
More than 80% of those who died due to an illegal drug overdose in January were males, and almost three-quarters were between the ages of 30 and 59.
BC is nearing the sixth year anniversary of the public health emergency declared due to the high number of deaths due to overdoses of illegal drugs.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe renewed her call for a new approach to drug use, with the government-supervised and controlled provision of a safe drug supply for those who use drugs.
“It is clearer than ever that traditional approaches to substance use are hurting people and costing lives,” she said in a statement.