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Take the first step towards recovery
by Hayley Hudson | ❘
On March 23, 2021, viewers got a deep and personal look into Grammy nominated pop-star Demi Lovato’s experience with addiction, overdose, and recovery. The signer held nothing back in the first 2 episodes of their YouTube documentary series Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil. Lovato and their friends, family, employees, and even the doctor who worked on Lovato after their 2018 overdose spoke in the documentary, leaving no details out and nothing to the imagination. The series’ first 2 episodes previse a story that tells the real and ugly truth about addiction.
When you realize someone is battling addiction, you often see them at the end of the line, after addiction has inflicted its consequences on the individual and those around them. However, typically a lot happens before things come crashing down. Everyone has a story and Lovato’s starts from a very young age. Lovato opened up about their father who they described as an alcoholic and addict. He was abusive to Lovato’s mother, and according to Lovato’s mother, Demi witnessed some of the abuse as a child. Lovato’s father was also reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
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Those with mental health disorders are much more likely to develop a substance use disorder than the general population. One study found that among those with bipolar disorder, 61% had history of a drug or alcohol use disorder. Among those with schizophrenia, 47% have a serious problem with drugs or alcohol. Using substances to attempt to self-medicate is common for those with mental illness, especially if they do not seek out professional treatment. Due to Lovato’s fathers toxicity in Demi and Demi’s mother’s life, Demi had to create distance from him. This made his death a heartbreaking revelation, when Lovato’s father died alone and his body was not found for a week and a half.
Children of parents who struggle with addiction are at a higher risk of developing an addiction themselves. Lovato’s mother also opened up about her Xanax misuse. When childhood trauma involving abuse and drug misuse is left without professional intervention, it oftentimes presents itself as a repeated cycle when the children grow up. Lovato has spoken openly about their own substance abuse and the effects it has had on their life. Lovato started using alcohol as a student and tried Cocaine for the first time at age 17. During this time, Lovato was working for the Disney Channel. In Lovato’s new documentary, they explained that they used Cocaine and Xanax together. That combination would eventually escalate to even more dangerous drug use.
Since 2010, Lovato has a history of substance abuse, receiving treatment in rehabs, relapsing, and regaining sobriety. The popstar had a long stint of sobriety, stating that they were celebrating 6 years sober in March 2018. However, in July 2018 the media was flooded with reports that Demi Lovato had suffered an overdose.
When Lovato relapsed in 2018, they said in their documentary series, “I picked up a bottle of red wine that night and it wasn’t even 30 minutes before I called someone that I knew had drugs on them.” Lovato proceeded to use drugs that they hadn’t tried before like Methamphetamine. At a party one night Lovato explains using Meth with Molly, Cocaine, Marijuana, alcohol, and OxyContin. Lovato reflects back realizing that that alone should have led to their death. At one point Lovato asked their dealer if he had Xanax and Cocaine and he said no, but he did have Heroin and Crack Cocaine.
Lovato says at that point they began using Heroin recreationally and became physically dependent on it. Heroin is a powerful Opioid drug made from Morphine that comes with severe withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes, and uncontrollable leg movements.
The night of the overdose, Lovato shares that they told their friends they were going up to bed, but actually went upstairs to call a dealer. Lovato used Heroin that they now assume was actually Fentanyl. After providing the drugs and taking advantage of Lovato, the dealer left Lovato alone. When Lovato’s assistant found Lovato in the morning, Lovato was naked and blue. At 11:22am on July 24, 2018, a 911 call was made and paramedics rushed to the house, administering Narcan trying to save Lovato’s life.
The overdose caused Lovato to suffer 3 strokes and a heart attack. They suffered brain damage from the strokes, has blind spots in their vision, and is now unable to drive. They received dialysis at the hospital as doctors tried to save Lovato, and they did even after Lovato suffered multiple organ failure. The documentary shares that if it had been another 5 to 10 minutes without treatment, Lovato would have died.
Since the overdose in 2018, Lovato focused on their physical and mental recovery. Lovato shared in the documentary series that the quarantine brought on by COVID-19 helped with working through past traumas and brought a period of rediscovery. Despite their struggles with substance abuse, Lovato was able to produce 5 award winning albums from 2009 to 2017, and will be releasing a new album April 2nd, with a similar name to the documentary series: Dancing with the Devil … the Art of Starting Over.
Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil is a reminder that addiction can reach anyone. It doesn’t matter how successful and wealthy a person is, addiction does not discriminate. Lovato’s vulnerability in this series demonstrates that fact. As the series progresses, Lovato will open up more about their history with addiction, sexual assault, an eating disorder, sexuality, and self-growth.
This article was updated on 9/6/2021 based on new information.
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has 6 years of professional writing experience. A passion for writing led her to a career in journalism, and she worked as a news reporter for 3 years, focusing on stories in the healthcare and wellness industry. Knowledge in healthcare led to an interest in drug and alcohol abuse, and she realized how many people are touched by addiction.
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