Demi Lovato's Decision Raises A Red Flag For An Addiction Specialist

Demi Lovato has always been open about her issues with substance abuse. The singer further explored her problems in the 2021 docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil.

The series offers an in-depth look at Lovato's battle with addictive substances like cocaine and heroin. After struggling for years, Lovato suffered a near-fatal overdose in 2018. The series revealed that, despite her past struggles, Lovato is taking a relaxed approach to sobriety. The two-time Grammy winner explained that she isn't 100% sober in the traditional sense. "I've learned that it doesn't work for me to say that I'm never going to do this again," she said. Lovato also explained that the decision to drink and use certain substances again wasn't an easy one. "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. I had it drilled into my head for so many years that one drink was equivalent to a crack pipe."

The docuseries included interviews with those close to Lovato, including her assistant, her manager Scooter Braun, and Elton John, who all voiced some serious concern for her decision to drink and use marijuana again, per Entertainment Tonight.

To get the inside scoop, Nicki Swift spoke to Dr. Meghan Marcum, chief psychologist at A Better Life Recovery, an addiction treatment center in Southern California. As an addiction specialist, Marcum was just as concerned. Here's why.

Specialists think there might be cause for concern

When speaking to her decision to drink alcohol and use marijuana in her docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, Lovato admitted that she was nervous to share the news with her fans. "[This method] isn't for everybody," Lovato said. "Recovery isn't a one-size-fits-all solution."

That might be true, but California-based addiction specialist Dr. Meghan Marcum is just as concerned about Lovato's choices as those close to her. "Whenever you reduce the amount and frequency of substance use, it's going to produce some level of benefit," she explained to Nicki Swift. "The problem with moderation is it can be difficult for those who have struggled with an addiction to drugs and alcohol like Demi."

Marcum further explained that, when someone struggles with addiction, it causes neurological changes to the brain. If they stop using addictive substances and then start again, their addictive tendencies are likely to reoccur more quickly than before. "Dopamine levels are depleted, and once someone begins to drink or use drugs again, it is often only a matter of time before the effects of a limited or moderate amount of substance use do not provide the effect the individual desires," she said.

Bottom line? According to Marcum, "Anytime an individual who has struggled with addiction feels it is necessary to consume alcohol and drugs, there is a cause for concern." However, it's important to remember the decision to use these substances is Lovato's choice, no one else's.

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).