Whitney Houston's Cause of Death May Offer Some Comfort

I guess I wouldn't go so far as to say there might be some good news about Whitney Houston's untimely passing, but the latest revelations about how she died may offer comfort to those who were close to her, particularly those who were in the Beverly Hilton hotel with Houston on Saturday.

Despite early reports that Houston had died by slipping beneath the water in her bathtub in a drug-induced stupor, family sources claim that LA coroner officials have said that it's unlikely that Houston drowned. Based on the lack of water in her lungs, the current theory is that she succumbed to a fatal combination of prescription drugs and alcohol before sinking into her tub.

If this is true, I can only imagine there must be a sense of relief for those who may have felt that she could have been saved—if only she'd been found just a little bit earlier.

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The report is coming from TMZ, who cite family sources briefed by Los Angeles County Coroner officials. Officials allegedly told the singer's family that there was not enough water in her lungs for her to have drowned, and that she likely overdosed on Xanax and other prescription medications along with alcohol. A host of sedatives and anti-anxiety medications were reportedly found in Houston's room, including Valium, Xanax, Lorazepam and more.

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It's somehow less awful to think that Houston was beyond help before she slipped underwater (maybe particularly so for Whitney's aunt Mary Jones, who was reportedly the one to find her body and perform CPR), but I honestly don't know what seems worse: the idea that she was on an illegal drug binge of some kind, or that her body gave out under the strain of too many medications prescribed under a doctor's care.

I hadn't really heard of prescription drug toxicity before Heath Ledger's death, but it may be that Houston died of the same thing. When I think of accidental overdoses I tend to think of heroin or other hardcore recreational drugs, but it's obvious that the right (well, wrong) combination of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals can bring on the same tragic result. According to the CDC, overdoses of prescription pain medications are up 90% since 1999, and accidental overdoses now kill more Americans than car crashes.

Man, that's scary. I had no idea.

Of course, there's no official word yet. Investigators will be examining Houston's behavior in the hours and days before she was found in the bathtub, and although an autopsy was performed Sunday, the results of a toxicology test are likely to take several weeks.

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It's a hell of a sad story however you look at it, and I hope for Houston's family's sake the investigation is over with quickly and everyone has the information they need to start making peace with the situation.

Do you think it's at all less tragic to know that Whitney Houston may have overdosed rather than drowned?

Image via Flickr/asterix611

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