In singer and actor Demi Lovato’s 2018 song “Sober,” she revealed that she’d relapsed. After six years sober, Lovato started drinking and using drugs again. She continued using substances for the next three months, ending with a hospital stay for an overdose. Since the relapse, Lovato has regained two and a half years of continuous sobriety.
Lovato started her career on the show Barney & Friends when she was just 10 years old. She rose to fame as a teenager with a starring role on the Disney television film Camp Rock. By age 16, she had released her debut album—which hit number two on the billboard charts—and acted in several tv shows and movies.
“Looking back at it, I could connect the dots and see that there was an immense amount of pressure,” said Lovato’s former manager Phil McIntyre. “She was living two lives. Here she had to be squeaky clean on the Disney channel, all types of moral clauses and just intensity around behavior. And once the camera stops rolling she’s living another life. She couldn’t really be herself. She couldn’t be a normal teenager.”
At age 18, Lovato left a tour with the Jonas Brothers to enter addiction treatment. She has since admitted that she didn’t get sober for a year after that; she continued to sneak alcohol and drugs.
“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…I had a sober companion, somebody who was watching me 24/7 and living with me. I was able to hide it from them as well.”
When Lovato went to treatment at 18, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She’s also had eating disorders—including anorexia and bulimia—from a young age. While her eating disorders are what she still struggles with the most, she makes sure to prioritize her mental health and recovery.
“Some days are easier than others,” she said, “and some days you forget about drinking and using. But for me, I work on my physical health—which is important—but my mental health as well. I see a therapist twice a week. I make sure I stay on my medications. I go to AA meetings. I do what I can physically in the gym. I make it a priority.”
Lovato made the choice that she would be open about her struggles—rather than waiting for the tabloid stories to fade—in order to break stigma and provide hope. “Let’s stop ignoring the biggest problem in our country we often don’t want to look at,” she said. “We all are connected to this issue one way or another and we all need to be part of the solution. Together we can replace shame with support, hope, and healing.”
When Lovato relapsed, she didn’t retreat into shame. Instead, she used it as an opportunity to talk about it publicly. Relapse is commonly considered a part of recovery, but there is still a lot of stigma around it that can keep people from seeking treatment.
Lovato said, “If you’ve relapsed and are afraid to get help again, just know it’s possible to take that step towards recovery. If you’re alive today, you can make it back. You’re worth it.”
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build a life in long-term recovery. When you leave our care, you will be set up with a comprehensive relapse prevention plan and support system. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.