Vicky Cornell, the widow of late SOUNDGARDEN frontman Chris Cornell, traveled to Capitol Hill on Monday (February 25) to testify before the Congressional Bipartisan Heroin And Opioid Task Force on the opioid crisis.
Chris was found hanged in his room at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel in May 2017, following a SOUNDGARDEN show at the city's Fox Theatre. His body was found soon after he had spoken with a "slurred" voice to Vicky by phone. The death was ruled a suicide.
But his family has questioned the medical examiner's ruling, saying that he had a prescription for the anti-anxiety medication Ativan and that a higher-than-recommended dosage may have caused him to experience suicidal thoughts.
Vicky believes that her husband was not depressed and was not a suicide, but was instead brought on by the effect of the Ativan.
"Chris had a brain disease and a doctor who, unfortunately, like many, was not properly trained or educated on addiction," Cornell told the task force, according to People. "We must integrate addiction treatment into our health care system — no more false narratives about the need to hit rock bottom, no more secret societies, no more shame — we must educate health care providers on how to treat addiction and best support recovery."
The discussion was led by Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force co-chairs Congresswoman Annie Kustler and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, and Congressman Donald Norcross and Representative Martha Roby.
Other panelists included in the discussion were U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir and American Society of Addiction Medicine President Dr. Kelly J. Clark.
Since her husband's passing, Vicky has become an expert and advocate on the issue of drug abuse, highlighting the importance of ending misconceptions about what she says is "a totally preventable and treatable disease."
Chris had struggled with substance abuse since childhood but had been sober for years. At the time of the singer's death, prescription drugs were found in his system, including Ativan.
Last month, Chris was honored at a tribute concert in Los Angeles, where the remaining members of SOUNDGARDEN and AUDIOSLAVE, along with METALLICA, FOO FIGHTERS and others, performed.
A box set featuring music from all three of Cornell's bands, as well as his solo records, was issued in November.