The Truth About Demi Lovato's Struggle With Drugs

Singer Demi Lovato will soon share an even closer look at her past relationship with substance abuse in an upcoming documentary. Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil is a three-part YouTube Originals docuseries to be released week-by-week on Lovato's own YouTube channel beginning on Mar. 23, 2021 (per Entertainment Tonight). The official press release for the documentary promises "an honest look back at some of the most trying times in Lovato's life as she unearths her prior traumas and discovers the importance of her physical, emotional, and mental health."

Sure enough, one of the explorations of said prior traumas will apparently focus on her infamous 2018 opioid overdose. This will mark the first time Lovato has revealed intimate details of the overdose and its fallout. The docuseries will be a followup to Lovato's equally confessional 2017 documentary, Simply Complicated.

In an official statement on her new series, Lovato explained, "It's been two years since I came face-to-face with the darkest point in my life, and now I'm ready to share my story with the world," adding that, "for the first time, you'll be able to see my chronicle of struggle and ongoing healing from my point of view. I'm grateful that I was able to take this journey to face my past head-on and finally share it with the world."

Demi Lovato's struggle with drugs began as a young Disney star

Demi Lovato has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse ever since she became a child star on the Disney Channel. Despite first being introduced to partying in high school, according to a 2017 People interview, Lovato did not begin overindulging until her Disney career began. "I felt out of control the first time I did it. My dad was an addict and an alcoholic," Lovato shared in 2017's Simply Complicated (via People), alluding to a possible familial connection in her addiction. "Guess I always searched for what he found in drugs and alcohol because it fulfilled him and he chose that over a family," she dryly mused.

Per People, Simply Complicated features an interview with Nick Jonas in which the singer revealed he and his famous brothers, who have known Lovato since co-starring with her in the Camp Rock franchise, all tried to help their old friend. Lovato's short-lived romance with his older brother Joe had "complicated" things whilst on tour with the Jonas Brothers in 2010. "I was playing the bridge," Jonas said of his role in the drama, adding that "I felt a bit of pride about it, like selfishly maybe I was helping her back to being the Demi we know and love." Jonas admitted thinking, "She's not going to do anything crazy, she'll be fine and then this episode happened."

Keep scrolling to find out exactly what "happened" to perpetuate Lovato's ongoing struggle with substance abuse in 2010.

Demi Lovato punched her backup dancer for outing her Adderall use

In 2010, Demi Lovato shocked the world when People (via Refinery29) reported that she had allegedly punched her backup dancer, "Shorty" a.k.a. Alex Welch, and abruptly quit her role on the Jonas Brothers' Burnin' Up tour. She subsequently entered rehab immediately. Lovato's rep confirmed to People in November 2010 that the singer had self-admitted for "emotional and physical issues she has dealt with for some time," adding that "Demi has decided to take personal responsibility for her actions." 

Perhaps one of these "actions" was Lovato's physical assault of Welch, to which she confessed and on which she elaborated in her 2017 documentary, Simply Complicated (via Refinery29). Welch, according to Lovato, revealed Lovato's secret use of the prescription stimulant Adderall to the adults in her life after a messy night of partying on the Camp Rock 2 tour. "The hotel was threatening us, they went to... the dancers and asked what had happened. I think they told on me for using Adderall," Lovato explained. The next day, she said that she "manipulated" Kevin Jonas, Sr. (father to the Jonas brothers), one of the adults whom Welch had informed, into revealing who exactly outed her. "[When Kevin Sr.] said Shorty, I remember thinking, 'I'm about to beat this bitch up,'" Lovato shared, and the rest, as they say, was (ugly) history. 

It's harrowing drama for such a young star, but did entering rehab in 2010 help Lovato stay sober? Keep reading to find out.

Demi Lovato continued to hide her drug use after leaving rehab

Demi Lovato has relapsed at multiple junctures throughout her career. In Simply Complicated (per People), Lovato shared that her 2010 rehab stint proved ineffectual. "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," Lovato revealed in the 2017 documentary. 

In 2013, Lovato told Access Hollywood (via E! News) how, at age 19, a year after her rehab stay, she was effectively hiding her cocaine and alcohol use. "I couldn't go without 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes," Lovato said, adding, "I would smuggle it basically and just wait until everyone in first class would go to sleep and... I'd sneak to the bathroom." Lovato also told Access Hollywood that to go back to her sober house, she once boarded a plane with a Sprite bottle "just filled with vodka and it was just 9 in the morning."

Lovato also hid her drug use while publicly speaking about sobriety. Her 2012 documentary Stay Strong focused on her recovery after the incidents that led to her 2010 rehab stay. At the beginning of Simply Complicated, Lovato, admitting anxiety over the documentary's interview portion, said, "the last time I did an interview this long I was on cocaine" (per Women's Health).

Keep reading for the next chapter in Lovato's struggle to overcome drug abuse. 

Demi Lovato seemingly admitted to relapsing right before her 2018 apparent overdose

In July 2018, Demi Lovato experienced what might have been her closest brush with death with regard to her substance abuse — an apparent drug overdose, as first reported by TMZ. After six years of sobriety (per Business Insider), the "Sorry Not Sorry" singer had seemingly confessed earlier that year that she had relapsed, releasing a surprise single in June of that year titled "Sober." The heart-wrenching ballad included lyrics, such as "I'm sorry for the fans I lost who watched me fall again / I want to be a role model but I'm only human." Per Business Insider, Lovato uploaded a clip from the song's lyric video to her Twitter with the simple accompanying caption, "My truth."

According to TMZ's July 24, 2018 report of her apparent overdose, Lovato was found unconscious in her home and Narcan, the drug commonly used to save lives in the midst of an opioid overdose, was administered. She was then rushed to the hospital, where she remained a week later, per CNN's Aug. 2 update on her condition. Lovato performed "Sober" for the first time a month prior to the overdose in Lisbon, Portugal, tweeting to her fans afterwards: "Tonight I took the stage, a new person with a new life. Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. It will never be forgotten."

We commend Lovato for continuously being candid and forthcoming about her substance abuse and relapses in hopes that it might inspire others in similar situations to seek the appropriate help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).