What Demi Lovato Has Revealed About Her Struggle with Addiction
Four months after celebrating six years of sobriety, Demi Lovato suffered a reported overdose. The pop star was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital from her Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday, and she is in "stable" condition after being treated with Narcan, an emergency narcotic overdose treatment.
The singer, 25, has struggled with addiction, mental illness, and eating disorders for years, and has regularly come forward to discuss the stress of remaining sober.
In her 2017 YouTube documentary, Simply Complicated, she opened up about how she began drinking and partying in high school at age 17, and how she continued to do so when she found fame on the Disney Channel.
“I loved it,” she said of her drug use. “I felt out of control for the first time I did it. My dad was an addict and an alcoholic. Guess I always searched for what he found in drugs and alcohol because it fulfilled him and he chose that over a family.”
After punching a backup dancer who outed her for using Adderall during her Camp Rock 2 Tour, Lovato received inpatient treatment in 2011 at age 18, when she was also officially diagnosed as bipolar. “I just came to a breaking point; the next 12 months were extremely difficult,” she said. “I was using while I had a sober companion and I went through like 20 sober companions. I was either craving drugs or on drugs. I was not easy to work with. It’s embarrassing to look back at the person that I was.”
In an interview with Access Hollywood in 2013, Lovato, 21 at the time, revealed just how bad her addiction was. “I couldn’t go 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes,” she said. “I would smuggle it basically, and just wait until everyone in first class would go to sleep, and I would do it right there.”
She also revealed that at age 19 she felt the need to turn her life around.
“I was going to the airport and I had a Sprite bottle just filled with vodka and it was just nine in the morning and I was throwing up in the car,” she said. “I had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh, my God that is alcoholic behavior.’ [It’s] no longer, ‘I’m young and rebellious and having fun.’ ‘It was, ‘Wow, I’m one of those people, I gotta get my s— together.”
Lovato first experimented with cocaine in high school, despite fear that she’d get hurt. "I was scared because my mom always told me that your heart could just burst if you do it," she said in Simply Complicated. "But I did it anyways, and I loved it the first time that I did it."
In the documentary, she explained that the treatment for her drug use did not last, and she used drugs daily for two months, eventually taking cocaine and Xanax at the same time and feeling like she was overdosing. “I started to choke a little bit,” she said. “My heart started racing, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I might be overdosing right now.”
Eventually, Lovato’s management team and Phil McIntyre were able to help her get back on the road to recovery, telling her they’d stop representing her, and eventually taking her phone from her. “This was the gateway to everything,” McIntyre said in the documentary. “This was the wrong people, it was the drug dealers, it was a lot of the negative influencers in her life that were coming through the cellphone.” After handing over her phone, she was finally able to begin the road to sobriety.
In July, rumors swirled that Lovato and McIntyre parted ways, and that she split from her life coach Mike Bayer and Cast Centers, the treatment center he founded and that she reportedly co-owned and first went to when she was 18.
In a March 2018 cover interview with InStyle, she discussed how spotting drugs in the media (specifically on shows like Narcos and Breaking Bad) could be triggering. “Weed doesn’t bother me, but if I see coke or even needles, it just puts them in my brain, and I don’t need to see that.” Last fall, she told Refinery29 that staying away from drugs isn’t easy. “I had to learn the hard way that I can’t do parties anymore … Some people can go out and not be triggered, but that’s not the case for me.”
And in June 2018, Lovato revealed that after her six-year mark of sobriety, she relapsed at some point this year. The revelation came with the release of a song title “Sober,” in which she sings about her battle with addiction. The lyrics read, "Mama, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore/And Daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor.”