A Northampton mum who spent 20 years supporting her drug-addicted son has urged others to learn lessons from his accidental overdose.
Diane Pickering told an inquest yesterday she had repeatedly attended court for her son, Steve, and never failed to take him in when he became homeless and addicted to drugs.
But not long after the 41-year-old began to turn his life around, following a cherished year together, he died after overdosing on a heroin substitute.
Mrs Pickering said in a statement: “I want to say that I loved my son, warts and all.
“Whatever he did wrong in his life was driven by the drugs and if Steve can achieve anything in his life, and now death, I would wish for just one person hearing this, who is dabbling in drugs right now, to stop before it’s too late.”
Mr Pickering, a father of one, was confirmed dead at the home he shared with his mum in Lumbertubs on May 9. Cause of death was given as his diabetes combined with methadone toxicity.
He had been known to take several days’ worth of prescribed methadone in one go then top it up with street methadone.
Coroner Anne Pember said she did not believe he had meant to kill himself and had taken an accidental overdose.
Mrs Pickering said: “I never wanted anyone looking at my son thinking he was a ‘druggie’ who had no-one who cared for him or loved him. I did. ”
In a moving extended statement prepared for Mr Pickering’s inquest, Mrs Pickering described how her son’s behaviour suddenly shifted in his mid-teens.
“He had a sudden and dramatic change in his behaviour. he became difficult, angry and almost impossible to manage, he just would not do what we asked.
“He went from a loving and very funny child to a child I did not recognise, almost overnight.
“When he was 18, he had to leave as we simply could not cope with him anymore. Steve ‘sofa surfed’ for a while and after that became homeless. I would come across him in all sorts of places, it was very upsetting. Most of the time I had no idea where Steve was except when he turned up unannounced at home and I did what mums do; fed him, cleaned him up, loved him and then he was gone again.”
Mrs Pickering first knew Steve was taking drugs when he was 18. Their consistently honest relationship saw him tell his mum he was taking heroin and it was then she realised the cause of his behaviour change a few years ago.
“I do not know how he got into them; I only know the heroin seized him and ravaged his body. He was a wreck and not strong enough, physically or mentally to get off it.”
Steve was unable to hold down a job and from age 18 he used petty crime to fund his addiction and the majority of his adult life was spent in and out of prison.
Remarkably, the bond between mother and son remained intact.
“He called me every time he got arrested, I supported him throughout. I went to every court hearing and visited him in prison every week. I never wanted anyone looking at my son thinking he was a ‘druggie’, who had no-one who cared for him or who loved him. I did. I loved my son very much and I wanted veryone to know that, including him.”