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Tragedy of 'beautiful' mum with painkiller addiction Diane found before; mother-of-three was due to book into rehab when found dead.

Byline: TIMOTHY GALLAGHER

A MOTHER-of-three died just days before Christmas after she became addicted to painkillers prescribed to her for aches in her legs.

Diane Bell, 51, had developed withdrawal symptoms due to the amounts of codeine she craved - but her GP increased her dosage on the condition she stuck to it.

Just six days before Christmas Day 2017, Mrs Bell, who had three daughters and five grandchildren, suffered organ failure due to toxic levels of the painkillers in her system.

She was found dead at her home in Wythenshawe by her partner - just a few weeks away from checking into a rehabilitation clinic for her addiction, which could have saved her life.

An inquest heard Mrs Bell, described by her family as a 'beautiful' mum, had been prescribed tablets for pains in her legs. But since 2014 she had started taking her partner's medication in addition to her own after he was prescribed tablets for his bad back. She also had a history of drinking heavily.

Weeks before her death on December 19, Mrs Bell was experiencing withdrawal symptoms and was prescribed more codeine from her doctor on the understanding she stop taking additional doses.

GP Dr Hoi Shing Wong told the Manchester hearing: "I had known her for a number of years. I would like to think I had a really good rapport with her.

"She started with codeine many years before that. She had pains in her legs, she complained of headaches as well, but by that stage we had agreed she had become dependent - over a period of years we tried to reduce it.

"When I first became aware of the use of excess codeine she was on over the years, I had tried to reduce her dosage - she was on eight to begin with. I was trying to get her onto five.

I agreed to dose understanding wouldn't any other Dr Hoi Shing "I was aware of what she had been doing, taking her partner's codeine as well. I knew that could affect her health, I was trying to negotiate with her to try and get her not to take any medication that I didn't prescribe for her." The doctor added: "I saw her on November 17, 2017. I had then had more information from the social worker with regards to her having complained of dizziness from running out of codeine and becoming irritable.

"She confirmed that she was getting symptoms of withdrawal from her codeine. She told me that she had been taking her partner's codeine so that was why she was getting these withdrawal symptoms.

increase the on the she get it from source Wong "In December she was going for an inpatient stay for her alcohol and her codeine, she was struggling at that stage with her symptoms. One option was to try and get her through to her detoxification, but I agreed to increase the dose on the understanding that she wouldn't get it from any other source - it was on the agreement that she wouldn't take her partner's." A toxicology report indicated an elevated combination of codeine and anti-depressants and that the effects are enhanced when taken together, but that she did not have a significant impairment of liver function. A postmortem revealed that she suffered from chronic obstructive lung disease, her heart was enlarged and her liver was described as being fatty.

Coroner Nigel Meadows ruled that her death was 'drug-related' - a result of a combination of elevated levels of codeine and antidepressants in her system, exacerbated by health problems resulting from long-term addiction. He said: "She was indicating to the health nurse that she was taking codeine tablets and her partner's cocodemol which appears to be in excess of what would be prescribed to her at the time.

"Combined drug toxicity and that has been combined with the fatty liver and cardiac obstructive lung disorder.

"There is no evidence whatsoever that he was deliberately trying to harm herself. What we don't know is the precise circumstances which she was consuming her medication.

"I can't say exactly how that came to happen - she clearly must have taken in excess combination of those drugs unfortunately it caused her death. That is not to say she has been abusing illicit drugs. But it is noted the deceased had a history of codeine misuse.''

dependent years "In for I agreed to increase the dose on the understanding she wouldn't get it from any other source Dr Hoi Shing Wong

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Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Jun 25, 2019
Words:757
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