Carrie Fisher’s only child, Billie Lourd, has made an emotional statement saluting her mother’s bravery in confronting her addictions after a toxicology report disclosed the Star Wars actress, who died after a flight from London to Los Angeles in December, had taken cocaine in the last 72 hours of her life.
Fisher also had traces of methadone, heroin, and MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy or Molly) in her system, but the report did not definitively state whether these substances caused her death.
Lourd was less ambivalent, declaring in a powerful statement that her mom “died of” drug addiction and mental illness.
Fisher was regarded as a one of the great, high-profile advocates in the 1980s and 1990s for people struggling with substance-use disorders.
She used her fame from playing Princess Leia in Star Wars to stimulate discussion about drug use and the challenges of recovery. Fisher was open about her attempts and failures to stop using drugs, which she first started using at age 13.
She explored her issues with addiction in her 1987 bestselling, semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards From the Edge, which was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep.
In her last role, playing an awkward mother on the British comedy drama Catastrophe, she portrayed a character addicted to internet shopping with an alcoholic son.
“My mom battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life,” Lourd said in a statement to People magazine. “She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases.
“She talked about the shame that torments people and their families confronted by these diseases. 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. Love you, Momby.”
According to the toxicology report, Fisher’s personal assistant said she had “multiple apneic episodes” during the flight, which was normal for her.
“Near the end of the 10-hour flight, she was not able to be aroused,” stated the report. “A few minutes later, the decedent vomited profusely then slumped over.”
A full autopsy was not conducted at the request of Fisher’s family, so the toxicology report was based on blood and tissue samples.
The report found traces of multiple substances in her system, but said it was unclear if drug use ultimately contributed to her death.
“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,” stated the report.
On Friday, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office stated that Fisher’s death was caused by sleep apnea and other undetermined factors.
The coroner also said Fisher suffered from atherosclerotic heart disease and “drug use,” but no specifics were given at the time.
“The manner of death has been ruled undetermined,” the report concluded.
By owning the deep cause behind her mother's death, and using her death as a rallying call to urge those affected by addiction to seek help, Lourd is going further than the official reports have.
One thing is for sure: Her Momby would be proud.