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Police suspect pain-drug death was accidental

Medford police are investigating the death Friday of a 20-year-old Central Point woman who reportedly overdosed on prescription medications at a home on Kristen Drive.

Police and medical crews were called to the residence, which sits just east of Rogue Valley Manor, just after 8 a.m. and found the woman unconscious and not breathing, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.

Paramedics were not able to revive the woman, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, Budreau said.

The preliminary investigation suggests the woman overdosed on prescription pain medication.

The woman was house-sitting at her grandparents' home when the overdose happened. She had a friend visiting for the night, and it was the friend who discovered her in the morning, Budreau said.

A toxicology report is under way, which could take more than a week to return.

There is no evidence of foul play at this point. Detectives will continue to investigate the case, Budreau said.

The woman's name is being withheld until family members have been notified of her death, Budreau said.

According to the 2012 Jackson County Sheriff's Dept. Medical Examiner report, 26 people died in Jackson County in 2012 as a result of an accidental overdose. While the involved drugs varied, most of the cases involved pain medications.

The evidence at the scene suggests the overdose was accidental and not a suicide, Budreau said.

"Unfortunately, this looks like a tragic accident," Budreau said. "We are seeing more and more of this with these prescription medications."

As doctors and pharmacies continue to monitor the pain medications they prescribe, those who become addicted are seeking them by illegal means.

"We see a lot of burglaries in which people break in to steal pain medications," Budreau said.

Painkiller overdoses lead heroin in terms of accidental deaths throughout the county, Budreau said.

"Some people who become addicted to pain medications will then turn to heroin when they can't find pills," he said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.