RSS
How Amy Winehouse died: An instant guide
A coroner rules that the singer met "death by misadventure." Translation: She drank herself to death. An account of Winehouse's last days
It would seem that Amy Winehouse's demons got her in the end: A coroner has ruled that fatal levels of alcohol killed the young singer.
It would seem that Amy Winehouse's demons got her in the end: A coroner has ruled that fatal levels of alcohol killed the young singer.
Ian Gavan/Getty Images
A

s many fans suspected, Amy Winehouse's death this summer was the result of alcohol abuse, a coroner confirmed Wednesday. The official cause of death comes three months after the 27-year-old, Grammy-winning singer was found dead in her London home. The verdict, officially labeled "death by misadventure," came after an inquest that considered various accounts of the singer's last days, including those of her doctor and bodyguard. Here's what you should know:

How much did she drink?
When she died, Winehouse's blood-alcohol level was more than five times Britain's drunk-driving limit. She had 416 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood; the legal limit in Britain is 80 mg. According to pathologist Sulhail Baithun, levels of 350 mg or more can lead to breathing stoppages and send someone into a coma. Drugs weren't the issue: The report confirms July's initial, inconclusive autopsy, says Glen Levy at TIME, which found no traces of illegal drugs in her system.

What had she been drinking?
Three empty vodka bottles, two large and one small, were found in Winehouse's room the day of her death, according to the St. Pancras Coroners Court. Her doctor, Christina Romete, told the court that Winehouse hadn't had a drink for three weeks before returning to the bottle three days before her death. It was typical behavior for the singer, who turned to drinking after kicking a drug habit in 2008, Romete says. The doctor saw Winehouse the evening of Friday, July 22 — the night before her death — and described her as being "tipsy but calm" while excitedly discussing plans for her upcoming birthday party. When Romete asked her if she was going to stop drinking, Winehouse replied that she "didn't know." Romete maintains that Winehouse made "tremendous" efforts to stop abusing alcohol.

How was Winehouse's body discovered?
Winehouse was found dead in her bed by live-in bodyguard Andrew Morris. He said he checked on her at 10 a.m. on July 23 and thought she was sleeping. "It was usual for her to sleep late into the morning." Five hours later, he checked on her again, and she was "lying on the bed in the same position." Once he realized that the singer wasn't breathing and had no pulse, he called the emergency services. By his account, Winehouse "didn't over-drink" in the days leading up to her death. "She wasn't drinking to get drunk."

And drugs are ruled out entirely?
There was one drug found in Winehouse's system, says Gina Serpe at E! Online, but it wasn't illegal and it was prescribed to her. The drug, called Librium, is a sedative that eases symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The coroner said it played no part in Winehouse's death.

Sources: BBC News, E! Online, Guardian, TIME

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week