Selling and swapping prescribed drugs is rife and a normal way of every day life in some parts of Bradford, an inquest heard.
People are taking them instead of buying Class A and Class B drugs, Detective Sergeant Steve Wedge told the hearing into the deaths of two women found on the same day half a mile away from each other on the Lower Grange estate.
Initially, detectives thought the deaths in June last year of breast cancer survivor Alison Pearson, 50, of Sheldrake Avenue, and former dental nurse Sarah Hussain, 38, of Mallard Court, were linked.
But an investigation eventually revealed the only connection was both women had consumed drugs which had not been prescribed to them.
Friends had to break into Miss Hussain’s flat, finding her on the floor clutching an oxygen mask attached to a cylinder she used for tuberculosis.
The inquest was told she had been a heroin user and had just started a detoxification programme.
But a post-mortem examination found her accidental death was caused by heroin and other drugs including an anti-epileptic drug, and others, that had been supplied to her illegally.
Police and paramedics were already at Miss Hussain’s flat when Mrs Pearson’s death was reported.
She had a cocktail of 12 drugs in her system when she died on the couch after she and her partner James Hawkins, who was in court with her family, had spent the previous day drinking tea and taking medications obtained from various people which caused them to drift in and out of sleep.
Mr Hawkins said Mrs Pearson had been sick that evening but they had both fallen asleep and when he woke, he found her dead the next afternoon.
When Mrs Pearson’s daughter Jodie asked him why he had not got help the night before when her mother was sick, he said: “It was nothing new. She had been sick before.”
Det Sgt Wedge told the inquest: “Whether it’s the sale, the swapping or handing out of prescription drugs, I think it’s rife. It’s very difficult to police. A lot of people take it as a substitute for buying Class A and Class B drugs.”
Assistant Bradford Coroner Roger Whittaker, recording verdicts of accidental death in both cases, said: “It’s a question of each individual realising taking these drugs that it’s as serious as taking drugs proscribed by law. They have serious effects. They can cause death.”