Lisa Robin Kelly's autopsy was completed yesterday. The coroner's toxicology results aren't in yet, but it sure looks as if alcohol played a major part in the death of the Connecticut-born actress. You may remember Kelly as Laurie Forman, the beautiful but promiscuous and untrustworthy blonde on That 70's Show, for five seasons. She also acted in Days Of Our Lives and Married... With Children and several films, notably Jawbreaker and Amityville: Dollhouse.
Alcohol consumption is widely accepted and prevalent in many parts of the world. Alcohol is a sedative, hypnotic, and addicting drug. Often, a drinker initially uses it to alter his or her mood by decreasing inhibitions. Though many people use it to unwind, relax, or "break the ice" at gatherings, habitual use can be fatal, as it apparently was with Lisa Robin Kelly.
Lisa Robin Kelly's death
Alcohol abuse and domestic violence played too large a part in the sitcom performer's recent life. Kelly admitted to a drinking problem after leaving That 70's Show. Arrests for driving under the influence gave her a police record over the past four years. The men in her life have accused each other of violent behavior, and her estranged husband, Robert Joseph Gilliam, was recently jailed for 35 days, convicted of domestic battery for beating his wife, and given three years' probation. Kelly filed for divorce this summer.
Kelly's fatal slide seems to have begun with recent overconsumption of alcohol. Her boyfriend took her to the hospital last Sunday, where she reportedly registered a 0.34 blood alcohol level. On Monday he brought her to the Pax House rehabilitation center in Altadena (Los Angeles County), California. According to gossip sheet TMZ, "she had been to rehab dozens of times before--yes, dozens." The actress apparently went into cardiac arrest in her sleep late Wednesday night and could not be revived.
"Alcohol poisoning is a serious—and sometimes deadly—consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time," say the Mayo Clinic guidelines for patients. "Drinking too much too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and gag reflex and potentially lead to coma and death."
Many factors play into a person's likelihood of being poisoned by drinking alcohol:
- Your sex (men have less risk at the same level of consumption)
- Your size and body weight (at 5'7" and 110 pounds, Lisa may have also had an eating disorder),
- Your overall health,
- Whether you've eaten recently,
- Whether you're combining alcohol with other drugs (still unknown in Lisa's case),
- The percentage of alcohol in your chosen drinks,
- The rate and amount of alcohol consumption, and
- Your tolerance level.
A BAL in the 0.30s, like Kelly's, may involve severe central nervous system depression, unconsciousness, bladder problems, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and possibly death. The University of Missouri-Rolla Center for Personal and Professional Development states that at BAL 0.30 %, "You're in a stupor. You have little comprehension of where you are. You may suddenly pass out at this point and be difficult to awaken." Example: an 18-year-old student died of alcohol poisoning with a BAL of 0.31% after attending two parties the night before.
BAL 0.35 % is not only very drunk, but also suppressive at the level of surgical anesthesia. It can stop breathing. Example: "a second student, age 20, died of alcohol poisoning with a BAL of 0.34% [same as Kelly's] after drinking six beers and twelve shots in two hours."
What NOT to do if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning
- Black coffee or caffeine — These do not counteract the effects of alcohol poisoning.
- A cold shower — The shock of cold can cause you to lose consciousness.
- Walk it off — This does not increase the speed at which alcohol leaves your body.
- Sleep it off — You can slip into coma while asleep.
How you can save an overdosed person's life
A person with alcohol poisoning needs immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 or your local emergency number for emergency medical help right away. Even if the person is under-age, legal consequences are preferable to fatality.
- Be prepared to provide information if you can (kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when).
- Don't leave an unconscious person alone. Choking on his or her own vomit can make a person unable to breathe. Don't try to make the person vomit because of this choking hazard.
- Help a person who is vomiting. Try to keep the person sitting up. If he or she must lie down, turn the person's head to the side to prevent choking. Try to keep the person awake.
The online blog of Pax House, the rehab center where Lisa Robin Kelly died, offers these encouraging words:
"The good news is that, it is never too late, no matter how deep you are into drugs, you can still be healed! As long as you are still breathing, you can still be helped."
Unfortunately, Lisa Robin Kelly couldn't keep breathing, and her heart stopped.
Based in Chicago, Sandy Dechert has been covering science and health for Examiner.com since the webzine's official startup. In the health area, she began investigating MERS before the disease was officially named and H7N9 human influenza on the day the Chinese announced it. She has also followed American seasonal influenza, the cancer diagnoses of public figures like Robin Roberts and Valerie Harper, and the creation, enactment, and progress of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Sandy's science articles appear frequently in Examiner's women's and sexual health columns and under environment and energy, as well as elsewhere in the digital world.
You are welcome to reproduce this article in whole or in part provided you stipulate authorship by "Sandy Dechert for Examiner.com" and/or link to this page. If the article interests you, please "like" it, share or tweet, and/or send me a question or comment! To keep up with the most current news, subscribe here and Examiner will email you when I publish new articles. All pictures and quotations here remain the property of their respective owners. Contact: email@example.com. Tweet @sandydec for updates. Thanks for reading!