Morphine and methadone were among the drugs. She was 22.

"That was my birthday," her father recalled, his voice wavering. He said he blames himself for not seeing the signs of drug abuse sooner and for not paying closer attention to her doctors and what they were prescribing.

"At the time," he said, "we thought they were trying to help her."

Times staff writers Hailey Branson-Potts and Anh Do contributed to this report.

About this story

This is the first in a series of occasional stories on the epidemic of prescription drug deaths. For this article, reporters Lisa Girion and Scott Glover, with help from reporter Hailey Branson-Potts, examined coroners' records and interviewed doctors, regulators, law enforcement officials and relatives of those who died from overdoses.

Doug Smith, The Times' director of computer-assisted reporting, and data analyst Sandra Poindexter created a searchable database on drug deaths in four Southern California counties to identify those tied to doctors' prescriptions.

Times photojournalist Liz O. Baylen created still images and videos, contributed reporting and helped conduct interviews.