A BINGE-DRINKING grandmother from Barrow took her own life by consuming a whole bottle of morphine that was prescribed to her husband, an inquest heard.

Catherine Maxwell, 59, of Farm Street, Barrow, was found dead by her husband Robert Maxwell on the morning of January 14 earlier this year.

Mrs Maxwell, a retired dental nurse, had started drinking at 6pm the night before her death and consumed almost three bottles of wine in a binge-drinking session.

The 59-year-old became argumentative and started shouting at her husband, who tried to soothe his wife by playing a CD to calm her down. They both went to sleep at 1.30am.

At 8am the next morning, Mr Maxwell dialled 999 after finding his wife unconscious with blue lips and followed paramedics' instructions by giving Mrs Maxwell chest compressions but she could not be revived.

Police were called to the property and found an empty bottle of morphine in the bin. Mr Maxwell, who is undergoing treatment for cancer of the left shoulder, takes the drug to relieve pain and said that his wife had also taken it in the past to alleviate any discomfort.

READ MORE: Barrow woman praises grandson for saving her life

However, a toxicology report found that after consuming the entire contents of a bottle, there was 256mg per litre of morphine in her blood.

Coroner, Mr Robert Chapman, ruled that this high concentration of morphine in a naive user of the drug combined with the alcohol consumption created a toxic effect. This would have caused her breathing to slow down and eventually stop resulting in a respiratory depression meaning she would have died in her sleep.

On the bed where Mrs Maxwell died, police also found a handwritten suicide note which had been intended for her son, Scott Heddles.

The pair hadn't spoken since Christmas Day when Mrs Maxwell became drunk and a row ensued resulting in the 59-year-old and her husband going back home in a taxi.

Mr Chapman concluded that the cause of death was morphine and alcohol intoxication and that she had intended to kill herself.

He said: "She had a bit of a boatload of medical problems according to the medical report from her GP and was taking a lot of prescribed medication. She was unfortunately used to being drunk and when she did get drunk she was quite argumentative and unpleasant.

"During the course of her binge drinking downstairs she seems to have consumed a bottle of morphine prescribed to Mr Maxwell that was unused and sealed. She has clearly sat down and left the note that we referred to and that makes it entirely clear what she intends to do."

READ MORE: Barrow dad, 27, died of pneumonia after taking too many prescription drugs

Barrow woman praises grandson for saving her life