An alcoholic man with a history of mental illness died after drinking CD cleaner, a coroner has ruled.

Barry John Morris, known as Baj Morris, was found dead at a Dunedin boarding house in November, 2010.

In his finding released today, Dunedin Coroner David Crerar said Mr Morris probably died several days before as a result of isopropyl alcohol ingestion.

An empty bottle of the substance, used for cleaning CDs, was found on the computer desk in his room.


Shopping receipts found indicated Mr Morris had purchased 25 bottles of wine over 17 days.

Venlafaxine, a drug prescribed for major depression, was also found in his blood, and there were also indications of the presence of anti-psychotic medication.

An Environmental Science and Research (ESR) report said it was impossible to know what the combined effects of the substances in his body would have been.

Coroner Crerar did not consider the death to have been suicide.

"The family of Baj Morris believe that there is every likelihood, that as an alcoholic, and as an outcome of his intoxication, Baj Morris may very well have experimented with drinking isopropyl alcohol without fully recognising the risks associated with this course of action."

He decided to release his findings to media in the hope that it would prevent further deaths in similar circumstances.

"Those drinking to excess and consuming products not designed to be consumed do so at their own peril," he said.

National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman said people ingested solvents such as CD cleaners for the same reason they used ethanol, the alcohol normally found in beer, wine and spirits.


"All of these alcohols produce a disinhibited euphoric high, but are all associated with respiratory depression when the dose is too high.

"It would seem that Mr Morris had a significant addiction to ethanol and this addiction would extend to other alcohols such as isopropyl alcohol.''

Mr Sellman said he had never come across a person with a primary isopropyl alcohol addiction.

"Such a situation is highly unlikely because of the widespread cheap availability of another alcohol which produces a similar psychoactive effect - ethanol. You can buy it at any supermarket down to 65c a standard drink,'' he said.

"Ethanol is much, much more important from a public health perspective and as a drug it is more toxic and carcinogenic than isopropyl alcohol, although coma can be induced with isopropyl alcohol quicker than ethanol.''