Chris Cornell's widow suggests singer may have relapsed before death: 'I missed signs of addiction'


We will never truly know what happened in that Detroit hotel room last month where Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell was found dead of what authorities deemed a suicide. But on Wednesday (June 28) Cornell's widow, Vicky Cornell, peeled back the curtain on what sounds like her husband's troubled state of mind before his death.

Vicky Cornell still takes issue with the coroner's determination that the 52-year-old rock icon killed himself on May 18 by hanging himself in his hotel bathroom, telling People magazine that she fears she missed some obvious signs that Cornell had possibly slipped back into addiction, or at least made a poor choice in mixing medications before his death.

"My Chris was happy, loving, caring and warm," she told the magazine. "This was not a depressed man -- it wasn't like I missed that. What I missed were the signs of addiction." Cornell had been open about his life-long struggle with substance abuse that began in his early teens, but hadn't relapsed since 2009, according to Vicky. A toxicology report obtained by TMZ read that Cornell had Naloxone, the sedative Butalbital, Ativan, the decongestant Pseudoephedrine and barbiturates in his system at his time of death.

42 PHOTOS
Chris Cornell through the years
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Chris Cornell through the years
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of Chris CORNELL and SOUNDGARDEN; Chris Cornell (Photo by Stuart Mostyn/Redferns)
NEW YORK - 19th JANUARY: Guitarist Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs live on stage at the Ritz in New York City on January 19,1990. Cans of Budweiser beer are visible on the drum riser behind. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of Chris CORNELL and SOUNDGARDEN; Chris Cornell (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 1: (L-R) Musicians Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden attend 37th Annual Grammy Awards on March 1, 1995 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden during RIP! Magazine Party in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Reading Festival, Britain - 1995, Chris Cornell Of Sound Garden (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden (Photo by Patti Ouderkirk/WireImage)
Kim Thayil, Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden with guest (2nd R) at MTV Rock the Vote '95 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Chris Cornell of Audioslave during KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas Concert at Universal Amphitheater in Universal City, CA, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Chris Cornell (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
American rock band Audioslave performs on stage, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 11, 2003. Pictured is singer Chris Cornell. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
AUSTRALIA - APRIL 26: Photo of AUDIOSLAVE; Chris Cornell / Audioslave, Melbourne Park, Melbourne Australia (Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns)
Audioslave (Chris Cornell on vocals and Tom Morello on guitar) (Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic)
IRVINE, CA - AUGUST 16: Lead singer of Audioslave Chris Cornell performs on the main stage during the show at Lollapalooza at the Verizon Amphitheatre in Irvine, California August 16, 2003. Lollapalooza is a multi act festival that is touring the country. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
Chris Cornell and Tom Morello of Audioslave during Audioslave in Concert at Roseland in New York City - April 30, 2005 at Roseland in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Chris Cornell and Tom Morello of Audioslave during Audioslave in Concert at Roseland in New York City - April 30, 2005 at Roseland in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Chris Cornell of Audioslave during Audioslave in Concert at Roseland in New York City - April 30, 2005 at Roseland in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Chris Cornell of Audioslave and his daughter Toni during Audioslave in Concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City - October 29, 2005 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Chris Cornell of Audioslave during Audioslave in Concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City - October 29, 2005 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Chris Cornell of Audioslave during Audioslave in Concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City - October 29, 2005 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Chris Cornell during The John Varvatos 4th Annual Stuart House Charity Benefit - Inside at John Varvatos Boutique in Los Angeles, CA, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage for John Varvatos)
Chris Cornell during The John Varvatos 4th Annual Stuart House Charity Benefit - Inside at John Varvatos Boutique in Los Angeles, CA, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage for John Varvatos)
Chris Cornell and daughter during 5th Annual John Varvatos Stuart House Benefit Presented by Converse at John Varvatos Boutique in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by J.Sciulli/WireImage for John Varvatos)
Chris Cornell and Vicky Cornell (Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage for John Varvatos)
World Music Awards, Earls Court, London, Britain - 15 Nov 2006, Chris Cornell And Wife Vicky Karayiannis (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: HYDE PARK Photo of Chris CORNELL, performing live onstage (Photo by Neil Lupin/Redferns)
STUDIO CITY, CA - JUNE 09: Musician Chris Cornell and wife Vicky Karayiannis arrives to the taping of Spike TV's First Annual 'Guys Choice' at Radford Studios on June 9, 2007 in Studio City, California. Spike TV?s ?Guys Choice? premieres June 13, 2007 at 10:00pm ET/PT. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3439 -- Pictured: Musical guest Chris Cornell performs on September 19, 2007 (Photo by Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3439 -- Pictured: (l-r) Musical guest Chris Cornell, host Jay Leno, actress Ali Larter and actor/comedian Dane Cook on September 19, 2007 (Photo by Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Singer Chris Cornell performs in concert at the Pacific Amphitheatre at the Orange County Fair on August 5, 2007 in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 07: Musician Chris Cornell arrives with daughter Toni at the Kennedy Center for the Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 2008 in Washington, DC. In its 31st year, the Kennedy Center Honors recognizes honorees for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Chris Cornell performs live in concert during the Projekt Revolution Tour at the Verizon Wireless Music Center on August 17, 2008 in Noblesville,Indiana (Photo by Joey Foley/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 07: Musician Chris Cornell arrives at the Kennedy Center for the Kennedy Center Honors on December 7, 2008 in Washington, DC. In its 31st year, the Kennedy Center Honors recognizes honorees for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 03: Musician Chris Cornell performs onstage at The Wiltern on May 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LANDGRAAF, NETHERLANDS - MAY 30: Chris Cornell performs live on day one of the 40th Pinkpop Festival at Megaland on May 30, 2009 in Landgraaf, Netherlands. (Photo by Mark Venema/Getty Images)
LAST CALL WITH CARSON DALY -- Episode 992 -- Airdate 03/25/2009 -- Pictured: Musical guest Chris Cornell performs on March 25, 2009 -- Photo by: Stacie McChesney/NBCU Photo Bank
CHICAGO - AUGUST 08: Musician/vocalist Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs in concert during the 2010 Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park on August 8, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Musician/actor Chris Cornell and wife Vicky Karayiannis arrive at the premiere of 'Machine Gun Preacher' at Roy Thomson Hall during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Director Marc Forster (L) and musician Chris Cornell arrive at the 'Machine Gun Preacher' premiere during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 11, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22: Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs at the Forum on July 22, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Musician Chris Cornell and guest attend the 'Machine Gun Preacher' premiere at The Museum of Modern Art on September 13, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
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Vicky Cornell says she still has not gotten an explanation from the medical examiner's office about why they ruled Chris' death a suicide just hours after his death, well before full autopsy or toxicology results were released, and before considering the possibility that drugs in his system may have altered his state of mind.

"He didn't want to die," she told People. "If he was of sound mind, I know he wouldn't have done this." Vicky points to a possible drug relapse, or at least a deadly, accidental combination of several drugs as potentially altering Cornell's state of mind a short time after Soundgarden played a show in Detroit that night. Addiction psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Nordstrom told the magazine that it's "hard to overstate how unpredictable the effects of mixing various mind-altering substances can be. Some of these combinations, especially those that involve sedative drugs, can lead to levels of impairment that are far out of proportion to what would have happened if the drugs were taken separately."

Vicky said her husband was normally a very "humble, sweet, kind and good, with the patience of saint." In previous interviews, though, she's said he seemed a bit short, confused and irritated during their final phone conversation on the night of his death. Though she believes Chris had been sober since 2009, she wonders if maybe she missed some signs that he'd fallen off the wagon. "I relaxed, I guess," she said.

Even after Cornell received a prescription for the anti-anxiety drug Ativan last year -- also used as a sleep aid in some cases -- Vicky said he still seemed tired. "That was a sign something was off," she said. "Addiction is a disease. That disease can take over you and has full power."

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Celebrities who died in 2017

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Actor Robert Michael Morris died at age 77. His death was confirmed by friend Lisa Kudrow.

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