I am a proud Demi Lovato fan. Growing up, the fierce pop star was always a regular on my favorite Disney TV shows and movies. Since 2008, she has released a stream of songs that range from rock to pop to good old-fashioned slow jams. At 25 however, Demi Lovato’s life is far from glamorous. As anyone who has followed her career knows, Lovato has had a very turbulent relationship with abuse. Drugs, alcohol, and food have all served as vices according to statements in interviews, song lyrics, and even her 2017 documentary, Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated. This documentary, like many public stories of abuse, culminates with Lovato’s release from rehab. By the end, we feel as if the young powerhouse has made it out on the other side and is now cured of her addictive ailments. She may struggle and stumble along the way, but as her wrist tattoo states, she will “stay strong.” However, when it comes to the cyclical and chaotic nature of abuse, this is not always the case.
Last week, Lovato made headlines. Unfortunately, it was not for releasing a new hit song or film, but after being hospitalized after a drug overdose. Original statements reported that the singer, songwriter, and actress was rushed to the emergency room after consuming an exorbitant amount of heroin, but these allegations are still being called into question. The truth is, we don’t know what Demi did. All we know at this moment is that she is still in the hospital and has agreed to enter a rehabilitation center upon release.
As previously stated, Lovato is the kind of celebrity that does not stray away from vulnerability. She has opened up publicly about her battles with addiction, even releasing the song “Sober” earlier this year, which recounts a relapse after six years of sobriety. After already maneuvering through the phases of self-destruction, rehabilitation, and recovery in public, a relapse like this seems unexpected. Recovery, however, is not a destination. It is a lifelong journey and Lovato’s is likely to have a profound effect on the women and men who still seek inspiration from her.
Yes, I believe that Demi Lovato can still serve as an inspiration. Up until this retreat, Lovato has remained fiercely committed to her health. She is not afraid to put in all the dirty work that is required to fight off a disease as complex as addiction. She cut down on partying, narrowed her circle of friends, and reportedly refuses to even watch films that portray drug abuse because they may act as a trigger. There is nothing pretty about fighting off your cravings. There is nothing clean about trying to get clean. The sooner that people accept this truth, the more likely they will be inclined to open up about their own battles. Often times, addiction is prolonged by shame and embarrassment. I imagine this only worsens after years of publicly maintaining a healthy lifestyle, only to fall off the bandwagon again. It can also be heightened by transgenerational behavior. Lovato’s father, who passed due to cancer complications in 2013, struggled with alcoholism and depression before his untimely death, which influenced the way he treated his children. Lovato admits that she was quite conflicted after his passing due to his abusive nature, but knew that ultimately “it wasn’t fully his fault.”
Anyone struggling with addiction, eating disorders, and self-harm, should not be afraid to seek help, but the stigma against these diseases will only melt away when we encourage and embrace victims’ honesty. Demi Lovato is not turning her truth away from us, so we cannot turn our backs on her. Immediately after news of the hospitalization broke, fans of the singer launched the #HowDemiHasHelpedMe campaign on Twitter to vocalize the ways in which Lovato continues to inspire them. While sharing your struggles may not launch a movement of Twitter proportions, it will surely spark the attention of the ones who love you most.