A NURSE died from taking a mixture of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, an inquest heard.

Colette Hartigan-Burns died at her friend's home in Painter Court, Darwen, on August 24.

She had returned to Darwen four weeks before after a spell living in Newcastle and was looking for her own place.

An inquest in Blackburn heard that her friend had returned home from work at around 6.10am on August 24 to find the 44-year-old in a drunken state, before putting her to bed.

Coroner Richard Taylor said: "Her friend thought she'd gone to sleep, but when Colette's mum rang just before lunchtime, it was found she'd passed away.

"Toxicology was taken and found alcohol in her system but not much over the drink-drive limit, which isn't a lot.

"However there were also levels of codeine within the range encountered in fatalities, and two types of anti-depressant.

"There was also the sleeping pill zopiclone present, which when taken in combination with the other drugs, may affect the way it works.

"Effectively it's the combination of them all that's led to her passing, and multi-drug toxicity was offered as a medical cause of death."

The inquest heard how Miss Hartigan-Burns had been through some troubling times and would often self-medicate with pills bought over the counter and others bought online.

A statement from her sister, Helen Burns, said: "She was supposed to be tee-total but had stepped up her alcohol intake and in the months leading to her death had been drinking heavily.

"She had been trying to sort her life out though and was coming back to Darwen and had just got her job back in Manchester.

"I know my sister, and she never expressed any suicidal thoughts or anything that concerned us as a family.

"She used to write lists every day and was very organised so if she'd intended to take her own life she would've left a note.

"She felt in control of what she was doing with the medication and didn't see it as a problem."

Mr Taylor said: "She's self-medicated in a way she thought her body could tolerate it but it hasn't.

"I will record a conclusion of misadventure."

Speaking after the inquest, Miss Burns said: "She was a great girl, fun and full of life.

"She was a wonderful nurse and was about to go back to work in a hospital.

"It's left a big hole in our family now that can't be filled, and we miss her every day.

"She will always be in our hearts."