Painkiller addiction ended in death of Nelson woman (58)

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A Nelson woman who had been addicted to prescription painkillers for a number of years died from an accidental overdose.

Mrs Gillian Hollows (58) was found unresponsive in her bed at home in Smith Street on September 6th.

We had been trying to get her help so she could return to a normal life without the pills but she just couldn’t manage it

Husband

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard how Mrs Hollows had become addicted to prescription painkillers but also bought them “off the street”.

A post-mortem examination conducted by pathologist Dr Al-Mudaffar found that there were fatal levels of dihydrocodeine in Mrs Hollows’ system.

The pathologist gave the cause of death as respiratory depression caused by codeine overdose. Mrs Hollows also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Her husband of 40 years Mr Terry Hollows said: “Gillian and I were still together but she found it easier recently to live with her mum.

“We had been trying to get her help so she could return to a normal life without the pills but she just couldn’t manage it.

“Gillian had started taking painkillers in 1998 following a painful abscess. This started to spiral out of control and I would find empty packets of painkillers. I also once found an empty bottle of liquid morphine. I know that she never intended to kill herself.”

The inquest heard that Mrs Hollows also sometimes bought pills from local drug dealers.

Her GP Dr S.J. Ashworth, of Reedyford Health Care, said he had been treating Mrs Hollows since 2007.

Dr Ashworth told the inquest in a statement that Mrs Hollows had suffered one severe episode of depression, but had no history of suicidal intent.

He said: “I suspect that if she died from an overdose then this would most likely be accidental.”

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

He said: “Having an addiction to prescription tablets, the amount taken proved to be fatal.”