Oxycontin Girl

Reporter: Mark Gibson

Pauline says "People have to remember every drug addict is someone's son, someone's daughter, someone's mother, they're people, you know it's not a lifestyle, it's a death style, they get trapped." Powerful words from a mother on a mission. "We don't have to wait for Al Qaeda to come and get us, we're doing it ourselves, you know people everybody thinks of drug dealers as something like you see on Underbelly but a whole lot of the drug dealers, a whole lot of the drugs are coming from doctors."

Pauline was so desperate to save her 26 year old daughter, she took Jessica's photo to doctors all over Perth, pleading with them to stop prescribing her pain killing drugs. Jessica was an addict who went "doctor shopping." "She'd dress herself up, make herself look pretty, get the kids together, take them to the doctor, tell the doctor about her problems with her back and scoliosis and other things and the doctors would prescribe the drugs." Jessica's drug of choice was Oxycontin.. a narcotic painkiller found in the body of Australian actor Heath Ledger.

It was a ten year downward spiral that claimed Jessica's life two weeks ago. "I feel really guilty because at times when it's been really hard I've thought, Jess, if this is going to be it why don't you just leave, and so now I have guilt for that." A year ago, Jessica featured on Today Tonight... she was a victim of horror landlord, Charlie Saliba. "He might be the landlord from hell but now he's going to cop the tenants from hell because we're going to take him for everything we can." The mother of two was on the federal government register that's supposed to tip off doctors about patients who shop around for addictive drugs.

Pauline says "There's a million holes in it, the major ones are that there's a 4 to 6 week lag between prescriptions being given to somebody and the information getting to the scheme..And worst of all if a person is being treated for opiate dependance that information is not passed on."

"So what do you want to see done about that?" "The register needs to work, it needs to be linked between the doctors and between the chemists so that if a person doctor shops from one doctor to another when a chemist goes to fill out that script it comes up, that person had that script yesterday or the day before."

"It's a real wake up call to the politicians and the administrators who don't seem to care about our patients." Doctor Colin Hughes, from the Royal Australian College of GPs, says doctor shopping could be stopped overnight, if the government made dangerous drugs like Oxycontin harder to get. "As a college we have written to the health insurance commission, we have written to the medical board asking for the system to be changed but no-one seems to take any notice, no-one seems to hear the cries of the mothers that have lost their children and it's wrong and it's time that it stopped."

Jessica's 7 year old son, Blake will now be raised by his grandmother.. his baby brother is in the care of other relatives. Pauline wants an inquest so that her grandchildren can one day know the truth.. and the system that provides drugs to addicts can be changed. "We're conditioned to trust doctors and I generally do and most of them are fantastic but in our society there's a group of doctors that are able to prey on drug addicts."

"What do you want to say to those doctors who allowed your daughter to go doctor shopping?" "Oh, don't, don't this could be your daughter...And the doctors are the people that are supposed to help us."

For further details:

www.freshstart.org.au