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Alcoholic died of a drugs overdose

By Canterbury Times  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

A DEPRESSED alcoholic who died of an overdose of painkillers should have been sectioned before, according to his friend.

Patrick Wilcock claimed his friend Ian McLaren was refused treatment by St Martin's Hospital in Canterbury because of his alcohol problem.

An inquest in Canterbury on Thursday heard Mr McLaren, 49, suffered from chronic leg ulcers and pain from previously breaking nine bones in his back and neck.

He collapsed and died at his home in Ramsgate in the early hours of March 20 this year, after taking "very highly toxic levels" of two types of strong painkiller.

Mr Wilcock, who met Mr McLaren while both men were patients at St Martin's Hospital last year, told the hearing: "He wanted to be admitted again but because it was alcohol-related, they said they couldn't take him – regardless of his mental state or depression.

"The district nurses even said he needed to be admitted to hospital to get help. He couldn't live with the pain any more – it was too much.

"In the last six months of his life, he became very depressed and shut off."

The inquest heard both men had fallen asleep watching a film at Mr McLaren's home in the hours leading up to his death.

When they woke up in the early hours, Mr Wilcock helped Mr McLaren to the front door so he could have a cigarette.

Within minutes, he noticed Mr McLaren's cigarette had fallen on the floor and, when he looked at his face, he saw his eyes were fixed, red liquid was coming from his mouth and he was making gurgling sounds.

In a statement read at the hearing, paramedic Jason Moat said he arrived at the flat just before 3.30am and saw Mr Wilcock performing chest compressions on Mr McLaren in the hallway.

He intervened and continued attempting to resuscitate him for 20 minutes, but could not save him.

Toxicology results revealed Mr McLaren had levels of painkillers in his system within the fatal range. It was concluded the cause of death was a drug overdose.

Spokesman for the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, Adrian Lowther, said the community health team were in close contact with Mr McLaren, but admission was not an option that arose.

He added: "People with mental health and substance misuse problems can access the full range of our mental health services, including in-patient services."

Concluding the inquest, coroner Rebecca Cobb said: "He was a long-term alcoholic. He suffered from depression, but left no note and had on many occasions taken more of those substances that on this occasion."

She recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

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