Fleetwood woman died of accidental methadone overdose weeks after tragic loss of her best friend

Tracy Lorraine Reeve was found dead at her home by a friend

A woman from Fleetwood accidentally took too much of her heroin replacement medication just weeks after the tragic death of her best friend.

Tracy Lorraine Reeve was found unresponsive at her flat in Adelaide Street on October 29 of last year by friend Brian Tattersall who had noted she was ‘out of it’ the previous day. When police and paramedics arrived they confirmed Tracy had died and found several empty methadone bottles close to her body.

An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court on Thursday (April 21) heard that 57-year-old Tracy, who was born in Kingston-upon-Hull, was given a weekly amount of methadone and should have been taking 10mg a day. However, Mr Tattersall said she occasionally took it ‘erratically’.

Area Coroner Richard Taylor revealed a toxicology test showed Tracy had levels of methadone in her system that were ‘within the range encountered in fatalities’. The test also found aripiprazole, an antipsychotic medication, which could possibly have enhanced the sedative effects of the methadone.

Mr Tattersall, who told the coroner he and Tracy had been looking for a home together, said he was aware she was taking methadone. She also occasionally smoked ‘some other substances’ which were likely to have included crack cocaine.

The day before Tracy was found dead Mr Tattersall said she was ‘out of it’ and added: “When she was like that, when I went round, I would make sure she was comfortable and then go back to my own address and let her sleep it off.

“On that particular morning, Thursday October 28, she didn’t seem coherent and she didn’t really know what she was doing. She didn’t seem any better at teatime so I made sure she was alright and said ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ which is when I found her.”

The inquest heard that Tracy had been receiving support from substance abuse organisation Change, Grow, Live for a number of years. She hadn’t taken heroin for some time and was prescribed 70mg of physeptone (methadone) a week which she took home with her.

A consultant from Change, Grow, Live told the coroner that the way Tracy was taking her methadone was ‘a very big concern’. He added that tolerance to methadone drops significantly after three days without a dose and this could explain why Tracy overdosed.

Detective Inspector Abi Finch-Hall, from Blackpool Police, investigated Tracy’s death after concerns were raised about a man called Lee Martin who occasionally spent time with her. Mr Martin ‘visited Tracy on the days she got her benefits’, Mr Tattersall had said, and he was also a known associate of Tracy’s best friend Susan Wilson who died three months earlier.

“Lee Martin was arrested on suspicion of supplying the drugs to Tracy, however, there was no evidence he had supplied any drugs to her,” DI Finch-Hall told the coroner.

Concluding that Tracy’s death was drug-related, Mr Taylor said: “I have heard evidence that the methadone in her system was at a toxic level. I have also heard that on occasions Tracy may take more than she should, either because she had forgotten or she was making up for what she may not have used in the days before.

“The way she took it was somewhat erratic. She may not have appreciated the dangerous position she was putting herself in by doing that.”