Editorial: Opioid crisis coming to a beach near you in Cowichan

Worryingly, carfentanil was detected in more than one quarter of the fentanyl detected deaths.

The story we ran in our Wednesday edition of the Citizen about children finding a needle bobbing along the shoreline at Maple Bay Beach really drove the point home that none of us are immune to the opioid crisis that is fueling so many problems in our community.

It has, unfortunately, become commonplace to see needles discarded all over Duncan, including the riverbanks and riverbottom where families go swimming in the warm summer months. But Maple Bay has a reputation for being quiet and affluent, not a hub for the visibly homeless and drug addicted. People might wear beach shoes there because of the sometimes rocky shoreline, but not because they are worried about stepping on a dirty sharp.

But that quiet affluence doesn’t mean there aren’t drugs in the community, they’ve just been behind closed doors, until now.

This is in keeping with the latest report from the BC Coroners Service on illicit drug deaths in the province in the first quarter of 2019. It found that nine in every 10 deaths occurred indoors, including more than half in private residences. Evidently, some of those private residences are suburban homes, not just overdose prevention sites and unkempt “problem” houses in more urban areas.

There was some good news in the coroner’s report. The number of drug deaths was down 32 per cent at an average 89 deaths per month, from the same period last year. But 89 people dying every month is still an astronomical number. Two-thirds of those who died were people aged 30 to 59, and men were four out of every five.

Worryingly, carfentanil was detected in more than one quarter of the fentanyl detected deaths. Carfentanil is an even more potent form of the deadly fentanyl, and it seems to be proliferating.

The local RCMP have rightly said that busting drug operations is a big focus. Drugs fuel so much other crime in our community, not to mention the other social ills that can be laid at their doorstep. And as the latest needle find shows, there is no escaping it. It’s coming to a beach near you. The only hope we have is to address it.

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