“The scariest thing to me was picking up heroin and realizing wow, this isn’t strong enough anymore.”

By Isabel Jones
Mar 16, 2021 @ 8:40 pm
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Demi Lovato lays everything on the table in her new YouTube docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, and that includes the painful details of her near-fatal 2018 overdose (and its aftermath). 

It was truly a near-death experience, with doctors telling Lovato she had between five and ten minutes left when her assistant found her.

Later, Lovato learned that the drugs she'd taken that night had been laced with fentanyl, a highly dangerous substance said to be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine

"I don't think people realize how bad it actually was," Lovato said on camera in reference to her overdose. "I had three strokes, I had a heart attack, I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I can't drive anymore, and I have blindspots in my vision. So sometimes when I go to pour a glass of water I'll totally miss the cup because I can't see it anymore. I also had pneumonia, 'cause I asphyxiated, and multiple organ failure."

As horrific as the overdose itself was, there's another traumatic wrinkle to the situation: Lovato was sexually abused that night.

"I didn't just overdose, I also was taken advantage of," she said, implicating her drug dealer. "When they found me I was naked, I was blue, I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me."

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Credit: OBB MEDIA

When Lovato woke up in the hospital, she was asked if she'd had consensual sex that night.

"There was one flash that I had of him on top of me — I saw that flash and said yes," Lovato revealed. "It actually wasn't until maybe a month after my overdose that I realized, 'Hey, you weren't in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.' That kind of trauma doesn't go away overnight."

Lovato's post-overdose road to recovery hasn't been easy, and it included a sizable relapse.

"I wish I could say the last night that I ever touched heroin was the night of my overdose, but it wasn't," the singer confessed. "I had just done a week-long intensive trauma retreat. The night that I came back from that retreat I called [my dealer]. I wanted to rewrite his choice of violating me. I wanted it now to be my choice. And he also had something I wanted, which were drugs. I ended up getting high. I thought how did I pick up the same drugs that put me in the hospital. I was mortified at my decisions."

She also tried to regain her perceived power when it came to the sexual trauma.

"I called him back and I said 'No, I'm going to fuck you,'"she said. "It didn't fix anything, it didn't take anything away, it just made me feel worse. But that for some reason was my way of taking the power back. All it did was bring me back to my knees, of begging to God for help."

Though she hasn't done hard drugs since her relapse, Lovato admitted that she's now smoking weed and drinking in moderation.

"I've learned that shutting the door on things makes me want to open the door even more. I've learned that it doesn't work for me to say 'I'm never going to do this again,'" she confessed. "Telling myself that I can never have a drink or smoke marijuana, I feel like that's setting myself up for failure, because I am such a black-and-white thinker."

Lovato is confident she'll never do hard drugs again, as her relapse with heroin proved a frightening truth. 

"The one slip-up I ever had with those drugs again, the scariest thing to me was picking up heroin and realizing wow, this isn't strong enough anymore because what I had done the night I overdosed was fentanyl. And that's a whole other beast. Realizing the high I wanted would kill me was what I needed to get me clean for good."

That said, she realizes full well the challenges ahead.

"I have full faith that you're not going to open up TMZ and see another overdose headline, but I also say this with humility, that this is a very powerful disease and I'm not going to pretend like I'm invincible. I have to work every day to make sure that I'm in a good place so I don't go to those things."

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.