"She will be the first person to say she has used [drugs] in the past," a relative tells PEOPLE

By Michelle Tauber
February 03, 2015 02:50 PM
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Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Bobbi Kristina Brown watched as her parents, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, struggled with substance abuse issues over the years. And among friends and family, her own struggles were well known.

“Bobbi Kristina will be the first person to say that she has used [drugs] in the past,” a Brown family member tells PEOPLE.

But as recently as five months ago, “She swore up and down that she wasn’t using, and she seemed very adamant,” says the relative.

As the 21-year-old continues to fight for her life after being found unconscious in a bathtub on Saturday, there is mounting speculation that drugs were involved.

Police in Roswell, Ga., have declined to comment on whether illegal substances were found in the home Brown shared with her longtime love, Nick Gordon. The other person in the home at the time Brown was discovered face-down in the tub was Maxwell Lomas, a Georgia man who was arrested on drug distribution charges last month.

Brown has drawn widespread attention in the past for alleged drug use, particularly after The National Enquirer published photos in 2011 in which she can be seen leaning over a white powder.

“You’ve seen the pictures on the Internet, so you know,” says the family member. After the photos surfaced, Bobby Brown denied that his daughter had used drugs.

“My daughter, she doesn’t, she doesn’t do that,” he told ABC News at the time.

Then in July, Bobbi Kristina denied posting a photo to her Instagram account that appeared to show her using a bong.

“I’ve never posted any photo of me doing anything!” she Tweeted. “This is someone trying to tarnish and make a horrible name for MYSELf. People are insane.”

The family member says that Brown spoke strongly about avoiding the same problems that tormented her mother, whose drowning death in 2012 was caused by drugs and heart disease.

In a conversation last fall, “I said, ‘You know we’re worried about you. I hope you’re not using,’ ” recalls the relative. “She said, ‘I know how my mother died, and I’ve learned from her mistakes.’ ”

Reporting by STEVE HELLING