67-year-old expressed wish to stop taking methadone

By Lousie Roseingrave

A 67-year-old woman who died of a methadone overdose had expressed a wish to stop taking the drug, an inquest heard.

Margaret Lawlor from Dublin 24 was on a methadone maintenance programme but had made numerous efforts to come off methadone.

dublin coroners court 1

Dublin Coroner Court returned an open verdict

The woman was estranged from her family and lived alone at Glenshane Grove in Tallaght.

She suffered from depression and her doctor had given her the number for Pieta House in the weeks leading up to her death.

Neighbour Julie Halligan checked on Ms Lawlor most days, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

She called on December 21 2017 and found the woman sleeping on the couch. Two days later on December 21 she called again in the evening.

“I was concerned because I had not seen her and her curtains had not been closed.

“She was sitting on the couch but not breathing,” ” Ms Halligan said.

She phoned an ambulance. Dublin Fire Brigade arrived and found the woman unresponsive.

Ms Lawlor was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem report gave the cause of death as methadone toxicity.

Medical reports recorded multiple visits to the doctor in the weeks leading up to the woman’s death.

She reported feeling depressed and expressed a wish to stop taking methadone. She was advised to continue as it was understood to be having a positive effect on her mood.

On December 19 she saw a nurse at her GP's clinic and was given a three week prescription for her methadone. She was found dead two days later.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned an open verdict as it was not clear if the methadone overdose was intentional or a miscalculation.

“It seems she was more depressed than usual but at the same time she never said to anyone she intended to take her life so in those circumstances one can’t say whether it was a miscalculation or intentional,” the coroner said, extending her condolences to the family.

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