Olivia Flowers shared the circumstances surrounding her brother Conner Flowers’ death for the first time since his passing in January.
The Southern Charm star, 31, revealed on Wednesday, November 1, that the coroner ruled that Conner’s cause of death was accidental overdose of fentanyl. However, Olivia explained that there is more to her late brother’s story — and that his addiction to prescription medicine was associated with his battle with Lyme disease.
“My brother hated talking about his illness,” Olivia told People on Wednesday. “So many people, even in his close circle, didn’t know about his Lyme. So again, to hear he died of a fentanyl overdose, there’s immediately going to be this assumption that he was partying. Conner wasn’t like that. This was a relapse. This was his means to survive.”
Olivia Flowers and Conner Flowers.Courtesy of Olivia Flowers/Instagram
Olivia noted that Conner — who was 32 when he died — began showing symptoms of his Lyme disease when he was only 15 years old. However, it wasn’t until years later that he was officially diagnosed and found a doctor with a plan to help lessen his pain.
“He started depending, at a very young age, on this prescription medicine to feel normal,” she recalled. “And we as a family started to see this toll it took on his body.”
Conner was prescribed painkillers to treat the chronic pain, but the headaches, joint and body pain and anxiety associated with it persisted. Eight years into his battle, Conner was referred to a functional medicine doctor who started to help him fight the disease.
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Olivia noted that at that point her big brother was addicted to different opioids and Xanax that he felt were helping him function. “Now, not only was he getting treatment for Lyme, but he was also in rehab dealing with getting off this medicine,” she said.
The reality star shared that Conner “always maintained that he had a problem” and didn’t “fight” their family’s efforts to get him into rehab over the years. “It’s really difficult to speak on,” she said while holding back tears. “People, when they hear words like ‘rehab’ or ‘drugs,’ they assume the worse. But these weren’t substances he turned to for partying. This was medicine. This is what made him feel normal.”
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Fast forward to winter 2022, Conner was living at a wellness center in Arizona and “in the best shape” Olivia had seen him “in years.” After spending the holidays with her sibling and their parents, Conner was set to come back to Charleston, South Carolina, to visit in January.
Olivia remembered talking to Conner earlier in the day, but when she went to her family’s home no one appeared to be there. Minutes later, she said her father called and said something had happened. The coroner pulled up to the house shortly after and Conner was declared dead.
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Olivia’s family announced his death in February, but at the time didn’t share any details as to how he had passed. The Southern Charm cameras also captured the aftermath of Conner’s death, revealing one of the last conversations Olivia had with her brother on the October 19 episode.
During one scene, Olivia told the cameras that her sibling told her he was “proud” of her shortly before his death. “One of the last things he said to me was, ‘You’re doing everything right. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be,’” she said in a confessional.
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Olivia explained on Wednesday that she is “very grateful” Conner agreed to FaceTime her for the show, because now she has “that footage forever.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.