Demi Lovato's Teen Substance Use Issues Were More Serious Than Anyone Thought

Demi Lovato has long been open with fans about her struggles with addiction. In 2018, the "Holy Fvck" singer almost died after suffering a heroin overdose, per TMZ. This came shortly after she released her single "Sober," in which she revealed she had been using drugs again. Following the near-fatal experience, Lovato attended rehab and worked on a YouTube docu-series called "Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil." She revealed in the trailer, "I had three strokes. I had a heart attack. My doctors said that I had five to ten more minutes." Per The New York Times, the overdose followed "six years of sobriety" and caused "three strokes, a heart attack, and organ failure," coupled with brain damage and lasting complications with her vision.

As recently as 2021, Lovato spoke about her choice to live a "California sober" lifestyle, or one that allowed her to smoke marijuana and enjoy the occasional drink. This is no longer the case. Ahead of her latest album, "Holy Fvck," the star appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and reiterated the fact that she's gone cold turkey. "I realized, like, I really want to do this for myself and I want to make the best album possible, something that really represents who I am ... The easiest way to do something the most authentic is to do it clean and sober," she said. Lovato's sobriety is especially noteworthy because she's been struggling with substance use for longer than her fans may have known.

Demi Lovato experimented with drugs and alcohol at 13

On August 24, Demi Lovato — who revealed in August that she was back to using she/her pronouns — appeared on Alexandra Cooper's "Call Her Daddy" podcast and spoke about trying drugs and alcohol at an early age. "I started experimenting for the first time when I was 12 or 13," she explained. "I got into a car accident and they prescribed me opiates. My mom didn't think she would have to lock up the opiates from her 13-year-old daughter, but I was already drinking at that point. I had been bullied and was looking for an escape."

Due to bullying, Lovato described "drinking a lot" in her teenage years. She also noted that the first time she drank, she was alone, something she now realizes was "a major red flag." By her late teenage years, the Disney Channel alum was experimenting with hard drugs. "At 17, it was the first time I tried coke and, like, loved it too much and then kinda bled into me going to treatment right after I turned 18," she shared.

While Lovato's struggles aren't unique (especially for former child stars!), her candid admissions are more unusual. Furthermore, Lovato's experiences have helped make a difference in other celebrities' lives, like Lili Reinhart. In an August interview with IndieWire, the "Riverdale" alum cited Lovato as an inspiration, telling the outlet, "When I was ...12, the only person I heard speaking about their mental health was Demi Lovato."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).