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BC Provincial Overdose Cohort

The BC Provincial Overdose Cohort (BC-ODC) is a collection of linked administrative health data on people who had a drug poisoning event (overdose). The BC-ODC provides current information on the provincial unregulated drug poisoning emergency response.
  • Available data from January 1st 2015 to December 31st 2021 shows 52,227* people had a drug poisoning. 10,826 people had a fatal drug poisoning, and 41,401 people had a non-fatal drug poisoning event
  • 67% of people who experienced drug poisoning event between 2015 and 2021were male
  • 46% of persons experienced a drug poisoning between 2015 and 2021 were 19-39 years of age. Persons in this age group comprise 27% of the BC population

*does not include persons who did not access health care services at the time of drug poisoning or drug poisoning events reversed in community.


The BC-ODC is a collection of data on people who had a drug poisoning between January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2021. The BC-ODC includes information on:

  • drug poisoning events
  • prescription medications
  • social assistance programs
  • mental health service use
  • provincial incarceration history
  • healthcare utilization including hospitalizations and visits to emergency departments

Health data is included from 2010 to present, with new BC-ODC data updated annually. By including data over time, we can look at what happens before, during, and after a drug poisoning event. Health Authorities involved in the drug poisoning response can request data access. Data requests are also possible for research and policy purposes.

The results from the Provincial Overdose Cohort help to:

  • Better understand what leads to non-fatal drug poisoning and drug poisoning death
  • Adapt and support unregulated drug poisoning emergency response activities
  • Identify opportunities for intervention and public health messaging
  • Assess the impact of drug poisoning response interventions
  • Understand the long-term health outcomes of people who have had a drug poisoning event

Reports & publications

Materials produced by the BC-ODC are posted on the Harm Reduction Reports page.

Harm Reduction: Substance Use & Overdose Reports

Data sources

The BC-ODC includes data on health care use by people who had a drug poisoning, and are found in the following sources:

Infographic showing the organization of the BC Provincial Overdose Cohort - link goes to larger image

Click the link below for more information on the BC-ODC and case definition for drug poisoning:

Case Definition Knowledge Update (PDF)

Identifying fatal and non-fatal drug poisoning cases

Graph showing the data sources used to identify fatal and non-fatal drug poisonings

This graph shows the data sources used to identify fatal and non-fatal drug poisonings.

Who are the BC-ODC

Development & Characteristics of the Provincial Overdose Cohort in B.C. (Jan 2019)


Cases are people included in the BC-ODC who experienced a drug poisoning since January 1, 2015. This period was the beginning of the rapid rise in unregulated drug poisoning events and deaths in B.C.

An overdose event is defined by any of the following:

  • Administration of the opioid antagonist, Naloxone, by paramedics
  • Physician-diagnosed opioid drug poisoning at an emergency department
  • Coroner-determined illicit drug toxicity death
  • A visit to a hospital, emergency department, or physician with an associated drug poisoning diagnosis code
  • Vital Statistics drug poisoning death

Drug poisoning events can show up in several datasets. For example, a drug poisoning record may be in ambulance, emergency, and hospital datasets. These events are grouped to prevent over-counting of drug poisonings.


Controls are people used as a comparison group for the BC-ODC. The Control group is selected from a 20% random sample of the B.C. population. Like cases, health and prescribing histories are available for this group.

A matched control group is also available. Previous BC-ODC analyses have matched people on birth year, sex, and Local Health Area of residence.

Uses & limitations

Potential uses

Knowledge updates & analyses that support the unregulated drug poisoning emergency response

  • There is a high prevalence of brain injury among people who had a drug poisoning event
  • The risk of severe COVID-19 complications is high among people who had a drug poisoning event
  • There is an increasing proportion of people declining transportation to the hospital by paramedics following a drug poisoning event

Research papers

  • Patterns and history of prescription drug use among opioid-related drug poisoning
  • Risk of drug poisoning death for people with a history of incarceration


The BC-ODC is not a surveillance tool. It does not have real-time information on drug poisoning events. For up-to-date surveillance reports, see the Unregulated Drug Poisoning Emergency Dashboard.

The BC-ODC includes administrative data, this is information collected routinely by public and government organisations. As a result, some research questions cannot be answered with this data. For example, we cannot look at drug poisoning events where health care was not obtained. Thus, it does not include all drug poisoning events in the province. In addition, some people who experience a drug poisoning and do not have a health card or personal health number, cannot be identified in this data.

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SOURCE: BC Provincial Overdose Cohort ( )
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