Brad Renfro's last relapse proved fatal.
The former child star, who seemed back on track after years trying to stay clean and sober, died of an accidental heroin overdose, the Los Angeles coroner announced Friday.
Renfro's body was found by his girlfriend in his Los Angeles home on the morning of Jan. 15. Paramedics pronounced him dead upon their arrival.
Friends of the 25-year-old actor said he was drinking the night before his body was discovered, but according to a brief statement issued by the coroner's office it was "acute heroin/morphine intoxication" that killed Renfro.
Renfro made his big-screen debut opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon in the adaptation of the John Grisham bestseller The Client when he was 12. Other early credits included Huckleberry Finn in the Disney's Tom and Huck, the crime drama Sleepers and the Stephen King-based thriller Apt Pupil, with Ian McKellen.
"It was obvious to everyone that he was the sweetest, most incredibly gifted young actor to come along for some time," Sarandon said Wednesday in remembrance of her onetime costar. "My heart goes out to the family for their tragic loss."
Over the years, Renfro continued to work steadily but never regained the same buzz factor, as his substance-abuse problems frequently outweighed all other publicity. His first arrest came at age 15 in his native Tennessee, followed by a string of busts in the intervening decade. Renfro served jail time in Florida and California and bounced in and out of treatment.
In December 2005, he was busted by L.A. police during a sting operation on the city's notorious Skid Row. He pleaded guilty to attempted possession of heroin and was sentenced to rehab and three years' probation.
Renfro tried to stay sober and kept working. He played a troubled murder suspect in a 2006 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and he appeared in the 2005 time-travel thriller The Jacket with Adrien Brody.
Shortly before his death he wrapped shooting on the feature adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel The Informers, costarring Winona Ryder, Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke and Brandon Routh.
Speaking to reporters in April 2006, the actor expressed optimism about his chances of staying clean with the help of a treatment program.
"It wasn't as bad as I had feared it would be," he said of completing a court-ordered detox program.
"It's helped me greatly. It's definitely been an eye-opener...I'm going to stay clean, and in turn, it will help me spiritually and with work.
"It's going to help me in all phases of my life."