Elizabeth Pena’s cause of death was related to alcohol abuse, TMZ reported. Pena, who died Oct. 14 at the age of 55, suffered a heart attack, gastrointestinal bleeding and liver cirrhosis, according to the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office.
“My family is heartbroken,” said Elizabeth’s nephew, Mario-Francisco Robles. “There’s now a void that will never be filled.”
Peña, who starred in the 1987 film, “La Bamba,” most recently played Sofia Vergara’s mother on the hit ABC sitcom, “Modern Family.” She leaves behind her husband, Hans Rolla, and two children.
Pena isn’t the only celebrity who has struggled with alcoholism. ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas will return to work next week after completing her second stint in rehab for alcohol addiction. “I am back to work next week, so happy to come back!” she tweeted Oct. 20.
Vargas, who first went to rehab in November 2013, said she began drinking in secret as a way to cope with her longtime anxiety and depression. She said hiding her alcoholism all these years was exhausting.
“The amount of energy I expended keeping this problem hidden from view was exhausting,” Elizabeth, 52, told ABC News. “You become so isolated with the secret and so lonely, because you can’t tell anyone what’s happening.”
Vargas said her alcoholism was fueled by the chronic anxiety and depression she experienced during her childhood. Vargas had severe panic attacks as a child because she spent a lot of time alone. Her dad had gone to serve in the Vietnam War, while her mom left her alone at home every day to go to work.
Elizabeth said the anxiety and panic attacks continued into adulthood, which caused her to drink heavily to cope. “I dealt with that anxiety, and with the stress that the anxiety brought, by starting to drink,” she said. “And it slowly escalated and got worse and worse.”
Vargas finally decided to get help when she showed up to tape a segment for “20/20” and was too drunk to do it. She admitted she still had the urge to drink sometimes but got help for the sake of her sons, ages seven and 10.
Since going public with her alcoholism, Vargas and her longtime husband, singer/songwriter Marc Cohn, have filed for divorce.