Chris Cornell’s widow has called out the rocker’s doctor for prescribing him a drug deemed unsuitable for recovering addicts to treat a shoulder injury a year before his death.
The Soundgarden frontman, 52, had been sober since 2003, but his wife, Vicky Cornell, reveals he suffered a relapse in 2016 – and she believes that ultimately led to his suicide in May, 2017.
“Approximately a year before he died, he was prescribed a Benzodiazepine (anti-anxiety medication) to help him sleep,” she told TV show Good Morning America. “He had torn his shoulder. He complained that the pain in his shoulder would wake him up.”
Vicky didn’t realise the impact the drug would have on Chris until it was too late.
“In retrospect, I learned it’s not supposed to be given to anybody in recovery,” she shared. “If you have to give it, they have to be closely monitored and it should not be given for more than two to three weeks, so he relapsed.
“In a seven-day period, he took 20-something pills and in a nine-day period, 33.”
Just two months before taking his own life, Chris actually reached out to an unidentified colleague, seeking help via email, writing, “Would love to talk, had relapse.”
Vicky admits “there were signs” he was in serious trouble, and she’s trying not to blame herself for failing to spot them sooner and getting him the treatment he needed.
“He had really delayed speech, he was forgetful. There were moments where I thought there was some confusion,” she recalled.
His problems became really apparent as he took to the stage for what would become his final concert in Detroit, Michigan, when he was “off-pitch” and “walked offstage” midway through the set.
Hours later, the musician hanged himself in his hotel room, and although coroners insisted the seven different types of drugs found in his system did not contribute to his death, Vicky remains convinced otherwise.
“He wanted to be there for his family, for his children,” she said. “He loved his life. He would never have ever left this world. I don’t think that he could make any decisions because of the level of impairment.”
Now Vicky is using her husband’s tragedy to raise awareness about addiction as a disease and combat the stigma associated with the illness to help save others facing similar struggles.
“It (addiction) is in all of our houses. It’s in rich, poor, it has no racial boundaries… it does not discriminate,” she declared. “I think that if there were less stigma around it, more people would speak up.
“There’s just so much labelling that comes with it (addiction), and my husband was the furthest thing from a rock star junkie. He just wasn’t. He was the best husband, the greatest father. I lost my soul mate and the love of my life.”