Demi Lovato is clearing up why she decided to perform her single “Heart Attack” at the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection event in February.
“She spoke on the mind-heart connection,” a publicist for Demi told Entertainment Tonight. “It was a sensitive moment intended to champion the women in the room—the very reason why Demi was at the event.” Demi has been honest about experiencing a drug overdose—and heart attack—in 2018, as well as the health effects she suffered as a result, including struggling with her vision and hearing.
Demi also hasn’t sugarcoated the realities of addiction. These days, though, she's feeling like she's on a much better, happier path.
“I wouldn’t change my path because I don’t have any regrets,” the 30-year-old singer said in a 2023 appearance on Andy Cohen’s Sirius XM show, per Billboard. “When I think about things, the closest thing that I get to regret is when I overdosed… that overdose caused me a lot of… it actually caused a disability. I have vision impairment and hearing impairment to this day.”
Demi, who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, explained that they have blind spots in their vision, and can’t drive because of it. “It’s a daily constant reminder. You know, anytime I look at something, like, I have blind spots in my vision when I look at your face," Demi told Andy Cohen. "And so it’s a constant reminder to stay on the right path because I never want that to happen again.”
Here are more details about Demi’s journey with addiction and her recovery.
Demi overdosed on heroin on July 24, 2018.
Demi's assistant, Jordan Jackson, found the "Anyone" singer unresponsive on that July day, per PEOPLE. Demi was rushed to the hospital, where they were treated with Narcan, an emergency medication for opioid overdoses, according to TMZ. At the time, law enforcement also told the publication it appeared to be a heroin overdose.
By mid-afternoon, Demi was responsive. "Demi is awake and with [their] family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support. Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy," Demi's rep shared in a statement to TMZ at the time.
The singer had tried many drugs in the months leading up to their overdose.
In Demi's 2017 YouTube documentary, Simply Complicated, the former Disney Channel star said they tried cocaine at age 17. "I was with a couple friends, and they introduced me to it," Demi said. "I was scared, because my mom always told me your heart could just burst if you do it, but I did it anyways. And I loved it."
Demi later admitted to trying a wide variety of drugs in the months before their overdose. One night, Demi mixed meth, molly, weed, alcohol, and oxycontin, per PEOPLE. "That alone should've killed me," she said. Not long after, the singer tried crack cocaine and heroin.
In 2021, the singer shared the experience in a YouTube documentary.
In Dancing with the Devil, the singer-actor and their loved ones spoke candidly about the overdose. Demi even shared at one point that they're “just going to say it all,” adding that the production team could take out anything if they decide not to use it.
Michael D. Ratner, who both directed Dancing with the Devil and produced it with his company OBB Media, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2021 that what people think happened on the night of Demi's overdose "is probably pretty far from what really did."
"What hasn't been documented is the details of [their] life that led to that night...we provide that opportunity for you to have a whole picture here," he said.
In the documentary, one of Demi's friend, Sirah Mitchell, revealed that she was given heroin "laced with fentanyl," per PEOPLE. Mitchell added that Demi's drug dealer "ended up getting [Demi] really high and leaving [them] for dead."
Demi also said in the doc that their dealer assaulted them after getting them high. It took Demi a while to realize what actually happened, though. "When they found me, I was naked, blue. I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me," Demi said, per PEOPLE. "When I woke up in the hospital, they asked if we had had consensual sex. There was one flash that I had of him on top of me. I saw that flash and I said yes. It wasn't until a month after the overdose that I realized, 'You weren't in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.'"
In April 2021, Demi sang about her substance abuse and overdose in “Dancing with the Devil.”
Shortly after the release of the doc, Demi sang about her substance abuse and overdose in a 2021 single “Dancing with the Devil.” In the music video, Demi sings from a hospital bed.
“I told you I was okay, but I was lying. I was dancing with the devil, out of control. Almost made it to heaven, it was closer than you know,” Demi shared in the song lyrics.
That same year, Demi said they're "grateful" to be alive.
Demi's overdose made them "realize that every day is a day that someone else doesn't get," the singer told TMZ Live in April 2021. "Every day that I'm here on this earth is a day that I need to be counting my blessings for and just being appreciative and grateful for it.”
Demi also said that realization has fueled and pushed them to do even more with their life. “It makes me want to live the best life I can possibly live, knowing that others didn't get the same chance that I did,” Demi said.
The "Sorry Not Sorry" singer also shared with TMZ Live they have “survivor’s guilt” especially after learning about rapper DMX’s reported overdose. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, survivor’s guilt is a mental condition that can happen when someone feels guilty that they survived a traumatic event when other people didn’t.)
"Anytime that I see somebody OD or even pass away that's in the public eye, I immediately think, 'That could have been you, had you not been putting all this work into the last couple years of your life,'" the singer said. "There's times where I've even talked about feeling survivor's guilt because you do ask yourself why am I still here? Why are others not?”
Demi added that survivor’s guilt is a "challenging thing to get over."
In 2021, Demi explained that they turned to drugs as a coping mechanism.
In an episode of Diane Guerrero's podcast Yeah No, I'm Not Okay, Demi opened up about the mental health struggles that led to her overdose, per E! News. "I would look at people in the media and I would just compare myself, not feel good enough, not feel thin enough, and wonder how it was that these people were living lives that seemed so perfect but yet I was in so much pain,” Demi said. “And when I got into the spotlight, I was like, 'Oh, it's not perfect here, nobody has a perfect life, it just looks that way.'"
Demi explained that they used drugs to cope with the stress of living a very public life and suicidal thoughts. "In the same way [my addiction] almost killed me, it saved my life at times, because there were times that I dealt with suicidal ideations,” Demi said. “And had I gone forward with that in that moment, instead of another destructive coping mechanism, I wouldn't be here to tell my story."
Demi also shared on the podcast that they "turned to those coping mechanisms because I genuinely was in so much pain that I didn't want to die and I didn't know what else to do."
After their overdose, Demi leaned into other resources, like therapy: "I did the best that I could at times and now that I have other tools and other resources, I know how else to deal and how else to cope so I don't have to resort to those behaviors again."
Demi had a heart attack and three strokes after overdosing.
"My doctors said that I had five to 10 more minutes,” she said in the Dancing with the Devil documentary. Demi's oxygen levels were dangerously low and decreasing, which compromised her vision.
She is still dealing with the after-effects.
"I was left with brain damage, and I still deal with the effects of that today,” Demi told the Associated Press in February 2021. “I don't drive a car because there are blind spots in my vision. I also for a long time had a really hard time reading. I feel like they kind of are still there to remind me of what could happen if I ever get into a dark place again."
Demi added that she was “grateful” for those “reminders” and needed a lot of emotional therapy to help with recovery. “I did a lot of work after that, just not physically,” they said.
In July 2023, Demi shared new recovery details.
In an interview on Radio Andy, Demi shared that she still has difficulty seeing, and even had blind spots looking at Andy while he sat in front of her. She also still struggled with hearing loss.
Despite these physical obstacles, Demi shared that she has a positive outlook on life. “Luckily, in the mind state that I’m in now—you know, being sober, having a clear head—I just think [I'm] in a more positive mind space and I’m not focusing on the shame at all,” Demi said. “I know I have a lot of sympathy for where I was at that time and the choices that I made and I understand why it happened and what happened, but there’s no shame that comes with it because it was just a life lesson that I had to learn.”
She also updated fans on her decision to go from “Caifornia sober” to entirely sober, in a September 2023 appearance on The Howard Stern Show. (California sober refers to a lifestyle where people opt out of drinking, but still use marijuana.)
“Abstinence has been the key for me,” Demi said, adding that they were “smoking so much weed and taking edibles, sometimes 300 milligrams at a time.”
Demi said they eventually came to see this as a safe replacement for their addiction and decided that quitting all substances was the way to go for them.
Demi said she’s feeling great right now.
In a recent interview with NBC News, the singer provided an update on her mental health.
“I feel happier than I’ve ever been. I feel like I’m in such a really great place, just spiritually and emotionally,” she said. "Not only am I in love, but I’m also just mentally very strong," Demi added (she is engaged to Jordan “Jutes” Lutes).
Demi went on to explain that she’s “overcome a lot and I am a survivor. That’s my story today, is just one of overcoming a lot of hardships but finally feeling the love that I know I deserve and living an amazing life."
Of course, being open about her health struggles hasn’t always been easy, so Demi enjoys expressing herself through her music. “The most important thing when it comes to releasing music is being able to share your gift with others," she said. "It gives me purpose, being the reason why some people overcome their emotional struggles or heartbreak or personal obstacles."
Her overdose helped Demi to realize what’s important in life. “I spent so much of my life working really, really hard and maintaining kind of a stressful schedule,” she said. “And when I had my near-death experience, it put everything in perspective for me. …I slowed down a little bit and I feel like it really benefited my mental health.”
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