Conaway was pronounced dead in Encino, California, nine days after being put into a medically-induced coma. He was 60. Dr. Drew said on his HLN show, "Jeff was a severe, severe opiate addict with chronic pain, one of the most serious and dangerous combination of problems you could possibly interact with. The pain seemed to be motivating him back to the opiates, and I told him for years that it was going to kill him. What happens is, like with most opiate addicts, eventually they take a little too much, not much more than usual, and they aspirate, so what's in their mouth gets into their lungs. That causes a rapidly progressing and overwhelming pneumonia that they usually don't know that they have, because they're sort of too out of it because of the drugs and by the time they get to the hospital it's too late. That's what happened with Jeff."
Whether Dr. Drew is correct or not will not be known for another six weeks or so, when toxicology results taken during at a May 29 autopsy by the L.A. county coroner are due. Meantime, former colleagues including Grease stars Travolta and Newton-John, and Taxi's Marilu Henner, released statements paying tribute to Conaway. His agent, Phil Brock, conveying what may be the Hollywood community's peculiar view of the afterlife, told The Guardian, "We lost someone that we loved. [But] we know that right now, someone in heaven is getting a hickey from Kenickie."
Alison Prato is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment journalism. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar U.K., Health, New York, Playboy and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, baby and dog.