Whitney Houston drowned with cocaine in system

Singer Whitney Houston died by drowning but heart disease and cocaine use were contributing factors, coroner’s officials have ruled.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation about what killed the Grammy Award-winning singer on February 11.

Houston, 48, was found submerged in the bathtub at her room in the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the eve of this year’s Grammy Awards.

Several bottles of prescription medications were found in her hotel room but a spokesman for the LA county coroner’s office said they were not in excessive quantities.

Craig Harvey said cocaine metabolites were found in Houston’s system and it was listed as a contributing factor in her death.

The results indicated the singer was a chronic cocaine user, he said.

Toxicology tests also turned up marijuana, an anti-anxiety medication, a muscle relaxant and anti-histamine in Houston’s system but Mr Harvey said the coroner found they did not contribute to her death.

The singer also had buildup of plaque in her arteries that can restrict blood flow. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the condition is common in drug users, although he said it was not clear whether Houston had a heart attack on the day she died.

“It just beats up their heart and they will go to use and they will have a heart attack,” he said.

The exact amount of cocaine in Houston’s system was not disclosed but will be contained in a full autopsy report to be released in about two weeks, officials said.


“We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure,” Patricia Houston, the pop superstar’s manager and sister-in-law said in a statement.

Houston soared to the top of the pop charts in the 1980s and is best known for a string of hits songs including I Will Always Love You.

But her career declined as she battled personal issues, including drug addiction.

Houston was last in rehab in May 2011. But celebrity media reported that she was seen drinking heavily and behaving erratically in the three or four days before her sudden death.

Sales and downloads of Houston’s best-known songs, including Saving All My Love for You and My Love Is Your Love soared around the world after her death.

Houston, 48, was buried in a New Jersey cemetery next to her father after an emotional four-hour funeral service.

It was attended by friends, family and superstars such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Roberta Flack.