The latest data from the BC Coroners Service shows fentanyl was found in more than four of every five illicit-drug overdose deaths in the province in the first seven months of 2017.

From January through July, 706 of the 867 suspected illicit drug deaths had fentanyl detected, showing a 143 per cent increase over the same period in 2016.

The service says in the majority of the cases fentanyl was mixed with other illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

“This presents huge challenges for those using illicit drugs and the risk is high," said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe. "As in previous months, most deaths occur indoors, in many cases when people are using alone and without the ability to get help.”

The BC Coroners Service says almost three out of every four deaths involved people between the ages of 30 and 59. Four out of five people who died were men.

Preliminary data also revealed that there were 91 suspected drug overdose deaths in July of this year, a 30 per cent increase from July 2016.

According to the service, the suspected number of deaths for the year is currently 876, an 82 per cent jump compared to the same time frame last year.