Overdose suspected in Ollalla deaths



It’s suspected that two overdose deaths in Olalla are linked to fentanyl.

 

It’s suspected that two overdose deaths in Olalla last week are linked to fentanyl and the couple who died might not have known they were using the drug.

A middle aged male and female were found dead in their Olalla home by a neighbour sometime during Thanksgiving weekend.

The couple were known to police said Cpl. Sean Hall in charge of the Serious Crime Unit based out of the South Okanagan.

The deaths are currently being investigated by the B.C. Coroners Service. A definitive cause has yet to be determined.

“Everything points towards that. There’s suspicion about fentanyl but nothing has been confirmed yet,” he said.

During the last month, seven people in the region have needed medical attention after overdosing.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, police suspect those seven people used drugs laced with fentanyl, an opioid and synthetic pain killer that can be fatal in small doses.

“We’ve noticed a significant increase in overdoses and people needing treatment in the last few weeks,” Hall said.

But also stated overdose statistics are much lower in the Okanagan than places like the Lower Mainland.

“We are pretty low on the spectrum,” he said.

Trevor Cornell, chief medical officer for Interior Health said between 45 to 50 people die of opioid related overdoses each year.

That number is up about 15 deaths from 2011.

Out of those deaths between five to 15 are directly related to fentanyl.

“It is an extremely strong drug. It’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine,” he said.

Fentanyl is largely used in hospital settings as an anesthetic because it has a shorter half-life, the length of time it takes the body to get rid of half the medication, than many other drugs.

It is also used in patch form as a painkiller for patients with certain conditions.

Cornell said the drug is highly addictive and often drug dealers lace other drugs with the opioid to intentionally hook users.

“(it is) often used by dealers within the black market to mix with other drugs such as longer acting opioid and mixing it in with heroin or mixing it in with marijuana because the short half-life builds tolerance very quickly,” he said. “A dealer could get someone who regularly uses pot addicted to an opioid without them even knowing it and then push a much harder drug on them.”

Cornell said there is a subset of drug user that uses fentanyl in similar ways as those who use crystal meth.

Opioids depress a users respiratory systems, and in high enough concentrations can cause them to stop breathing and die.

For every death, Cornell estimates 1,000 others have come close to overdosing and about 50 per cent have survived because of treatment received at emergency rooms across the region.

He suggested those who choose to use illicit drugs take smaller-than-normal doses when testing a new supply and ensure someone else is with them in case they go into distress. More harm-reduction advice is available at local health units, some of which provide kits containing Narcan, a medication that can reverse the effects of opioid drugs.

Just Posted

Lightning strikes spark 38 fires in B.C., 13 in the region

13 new fires in the Okanagan have been reported from the BC Wildfire Service Tuesday night.

UPDATE: Several fires burning in Lower Similkameen

At least one fire near Keremeos was caused by lightening

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

VIDEO: Vernon residents quick to jump on lightning fire

Thanks to the residents’ efforts, crews were able to quickly suppress the fire.

UPDATED: Four small wildfires reported near Revelstoke following Tuesday night storm

Four new wildfires are currently burning near Revelstoke following Tuesday night’s lightning… Continue reading

Several attacked with bear spray at Kalamalka Beach

Police have apprehended a 16-year-old Vernon male.

Hells Angels celebrating 35th anniversary party on Vancouver Island

Additional police resources will be in Nanaimo this weekend as roughly 300 members and hang arounds are expected

New campaign aims to tide food waste at home

About 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is discarded in Canada every year

‘Savour the Okanagan’ fundraiser in Vernon Saturday

All contributions and proceeds will go towards JoeAnna’s House

B.C. couple reunited with dog three years after disappearance

A purebred Pomeranian is back with his parents, likely after years in a puppy mill.

BC Nurses Union calls for decriminalization of opioids

BCNU president wants the federal government to do more to reduce preventable deaths

West Kelowna firefighters perform rescue after lightning strike

Crews rescued two people from an apartment’s elevator on Carrington Road

Most Read