"If you was never an addict, you don't know what it's like to struggle and stay clean ... to hit rock bottom," said Thorn, recalling her own battle to get off drugs as she grew up on the gritty streets of Newark, where Houston was born 48 years ago.
It's unclear how long the investigation of Houston's death will take.
In other cases of high-profile figures dying unexpectedly, the investigations lasted for months and included detailed toxicology tests.
It took nearly three months for the coroner to officially rule on the death of Michael Jackson in 2009. In that case, authorities extensively reviewed the prescription drugs he was taking, interviewed his physicians and examined his medical history. The coroner ultimately determined that he died of "acute propofol intoxication."