Carrie Fisher tested positive for cocaine, methadone, ethanol and opiates when she was admitted to the hospital four days before her death in December, according to a toxicology report released Monday by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
But the coroner’s office said it could not determine the role of drugs in Fisher’s death, which it said last Friday was caused by sleep apnea and a combination of other factors, including heart disease.
Fisher, who gained worldwide fame for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise, was 60 years old when she died on Dec. 27 in Los Angeles after collapsing on a flight from London four days earlier. Her mother, the actress Debbie Reynolds, had a stroke and died the next day, at the age of 84.
The toxicology report, which was completed last month, said Fisher had suffered from “other conditions” at the time of her death, including atherosclerotic heart disease and drug use, and said she was also receiving therapy for bipolar disorder. But it said her “manner of death” was undetermined and the significance of her drug use was “not ascertained.”
“Ms. Fisher suffered what appeared to be a cardiac arrest on the airplane, accompanied by vomiting and with a history of sleep apnea,” the report said. “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.”
Fisher long battled with substance abuse and mental illness, two painful topics that she turned to frequently in her writing, like the thinly veiled autobiographical novel “Posctards From the Edge,” and a memoir and one woman show — both titled “Wishful Drinking.”
“There’s nothing about this that is enlightening,” Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, told The Associated Press on Friday. “I am not shocked that part of her health was affected by drugs.”
Her daughter, the actress Billie Lourd, said in a statement to People magazine on Friday that her mother had always been open about her struggles with mental illness and substance abuse. Lourd said that she wanted people to talk about those parts of her mother’s life, too.
“I know my Mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles,” Lourd said in the statement. “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.”