Video still of Ms. Pena
Sadly on October 14, 2014, actress Elizabeth Peña died far too young at age 55 from a preventable disease, addiction to alcohol.
Her death was directly related to drinking. The Los Angeles County Coroner has ruled that the “Modern Family” and “Matador” actress, was due to severe alcohol abuse reported People.
The El Rey network, home to the hit series “Matador” that featured Ms. Peña as the matriarch of the family, released a statement on her passing:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Peña. She was a role model, a truly extraordinary performer and an inspiration in every sense of the word. Our thoughts are with Elizabeth’s family and friends during this difficult time. She will be deeply missed.
The Los Angeles County Coroner cited cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol, as well as cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiogenic shock and acute gastrointestinal bleeding on the actress’s death certificate. She died in a Los Angeles hospital.
Last week, Peña’s manager, Gina Rugolo, said the New Jersey-born actress died of natural causes after a brief illness.
Addiction specialist Dr. Akikur Mohammad, M.D. founder and medical director of Inspire Malibu treatment center is a guest editor for Monsters and Critics on matters of addiction to both alcohol and drugs, and he offers commentary about the fact that Ms. Pena didn’t receive proper treatment for her disease:
“Elizabeth Pena’s tragic death was unnecessary. Her prognosis could have been different had she received evidence-based treatment for her alcohol addiction, that lead to her cirrhosis. Today in the 21st century we have medications, provided under the supervision of trained medical professionals, that successfully treat substance abuse. Her death, like Glee’s Cory Monteith and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s, underscores how alcoholism and drug addiction are a chronic disease that must be managed over a lifetime. There should be no stigma in having this disease, which has a strong genetic component, anymore than we should stigmatize someone with diabetes or asthma. For most people with the disease of addiction, treatment based solely on abstinence does not work.”
Dr. Mohammad, based in Los Angeles, is a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine where he teaches addiction medicine.