By Tony Wall
Prescription opioid use in New Zealand has risen dramatically and doctors are accused of inadvertently creating thousands of addicts, many of whom don't even know they're dependent. In part four of 'The Opioid Chronicles', families and experts plead with the Government to make a life-saving overdose medicine more widely available.
Annabelle's* parents were the ones who found her.
They'd popped around to her Hutt Valley home for a cup of tea, and found her unconscious on her bed.
They'd known for a few months that Annabelle was injecting methadone - her way of dealing with back pain - and figured she'd overdosed, although she'd had time to tidy away her needle and syringe.
Her eyes were fluttering and she was taking deep breaths, giving them hope.
They called an ambulance but when it arrived the paramedics called for another - her parents assume the first crew didn't have the right drugs or equipment for treating overdose patients.
Annabelle, a mother of one aged in her 30s, died in Wellington Hospital the next morning. That was five years ago.