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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Ireleth mum calls for tighter controls on distribution of methadone

TIGHTER controls on methadone distribution have been called for after fears the drug is contributing to an increasing number of deaths.

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MOTHER Nik Alderton, from Ireleth, with a picture of her daughter, Beatrice Alderton, who died from a methadone overdose in August 2011 LINDSEY DICKINGS REF: 50062566B001

Coroner for South and East Cumbria, Ian Smith, warned the problem of methadone abuse was “rearing its head” again after being a problem in the 1990s, during an inquest into the death of Ulverston man, Andrew Thorburn, on April 16.

The inquest heard he choked on his own vomit due to the combined effects of methadone and alcohol.

Mr Smith’s warning struck a chord with Nik Alderton, 43, from Ireleth, who lost her 19-year-old daughter Beatrice Alderton to the drug in 2011.

She said: “Beatrice was not an addict. I’m not going to pretend she didn’t go out and party; she was a character and went out like any girl her age. But there was no evidence she ever took heroin and why she was taking methadone is something I will never know.”

No-one was ever prosecuted for giving Beatrice the drug.

Figures from the South and East Cumbria’s Coroner’s office show there were seven inquests into drug related deaths in 2013, and all had methadone listed as a contributory factor.

Mrs Alderton said the information was “shocking” and “saddening”.

She said: “We don’t know if these people are taking it on prescription, we need tighter controls.”

She had criticised Barrow MP John Woodcock for failing to arrange a meeting to discuss the issue, but he has promised to rectify his “mistake”.

He said: “There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one and methadone has caused far too much grieving in our community. I have now spoken to Mrs Alderton to say how sorry I am for failing to arrange the meeting we had agreed.

“We now have a date for the important meeting which will be attended by representatives from all the relevant agencies. including the police, the coroner’s office and Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group.”

Methadone is prescribed to recovering heroin addicts and its distribution is monitored by NHS service Unity.

According to Unity guidelines, patients must first take the drug under supervision at designated pharmacies, but guidelines say take-home doses can be prescribed after a certain period.

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