On Friday, the Los Angeles County Office revealed that Carrie Fisher officially died of “sleep apnea and other factors.” Later, on Monday, an autopsy report was made public, showing that Fisher had several drugs in her system when she died on December 27.
The original statement said, “the manner of death has been ruled undetermined.” However, it listed atherosclerotic heart disease and drug use as other factors that may have caused Fisher’s death. It also said: “How Injury Occurred: Multiple drug intake, significance not ascertained.”
However, the report released on Monday says that “Fisher may have taken cocaine three days before the December 23 flight on which she became ill,” according to the Associated Press. The report also revealed that MDMA – known as ecstasy –, methadone, and heroin were found as well in Fisher’s system. But they couldn’t determine when the actress had taken those drugs.
The autopsy states that Fisher suffered a cardiac arrest on the airplane, presenting vomiting as well, and a history of sleep apnea. However, “Based on the available toxicological information, we cannot establish the significance of the multiple substances that were detected in Ms. Fisher’s blood and tissue, with regard to the cause of death,” the report states.
The coroner’s office also stated that a buildup of fatty tissue in the walls of the actress’ arteries was a contributing factor to her death.
The ‘Star Wars’ star was 60 years old when she collapsed during an 11-hour international flight last December. Nurses on board attended the actress before landing in Los Angeles, where she was taken to the hospital. She passed away days later. In January, the L.A. coroner listed the cause of death as cardiac arrest.
Fisher’s daughter talked about her mother’s drug use
The report released by the L.A. County coroner’s office on Friday was very vague about the role drugs played in Fisher’s death. But her daughter, Billie Lourd, issued a statement to People magazine referring to her mother’s drug consumption and how it may have been linked to her death.
“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases,” Lourd told People.
The actress’ brother, Todd Fisher, also reacted to the report, saying that there was no surprise in the coroner’s statement. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, he said that Fisher’s struggle with drugs “slowly but surely put her health in jeopardy over many, many years.” “I honestly hoped we would grow old together,” he added, “but after her death, nobody was shocked.”
In several interviews, Fisher has said that she first smoked marijuana at 13. When she was 21, she tried LSD, followed by cocaine, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 24.
She was always very open and constantly joked about her substance-abuse problem and her mental health issues, as well as her complicated relationship with her mother, Debbie Reynolds, who passed away the next day after Fisher’s death.
“Drugs made me feel more normal,” she told Psychology Today in 2001. “They contained me.”
She addressed her problem in her 1987 novel ‘Postcards from the Edge,’ a semi-autobiographical account of an actress battling drug addiction. The following years, she kept writing books and speaking at public events.
Her daughter said in her statement with People that she hoped her mother’s death will help people who suffer the same struggles. “She talked about the shame that torments people and their families confronted by these diseases,” she said. “I know my mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles. Seek help, fight for government funding for mental health programs. Shame and those social stigmas are the enemies of progress to solutions and ultimately a cure.”