“Mama, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore / And Daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor / To the ones who never left me / We’ve been down this road before I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore.” Having penned those most honest, most personal of words, the chorus to her latest single “Sober”, Demi Lovato shared the track and video with her fans last month with a straightforward post, tweeting, “My truth…”On the off-chance her lyrics didn’t drive the point home, her message was clear: She’d slipped up just months after celebrating an impressive six years of sobriety. And now, quite simply, she wasn’t sober anymore.
Her message was in line with the 25-year-old’s unflinching brand of honesty, almost unnecessarily open in her drive to help anyone she could that might be struggling alongside her. But it turned out to be just one part of the story. Because before Lovato was rushed to L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center today suffering from an apparent overdose, the Narcan in her system keeping her alive through the frantic ambulance ride, she’d been struggling, insiders reveal to E! News, grasping on to her sobriety with just the edges of her fingertips. “She’s been in a downward spiral and has not been doing well,” one insider says of the “Sorry Not Sorry” singer. “She’s been heavily using and her friends have been very worried that this was going to happen.”
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Fans, however, were blissfully in the dark. When Lovato cryptically tweeted “Good luck on your blog,” it was seen as a signature clapback, purportedly directed at Mike Bayer, her longtime sober companion and CEO of CAST Centers, a wellness and addiction treatment center which she also co-owns. Maybe he was starting to divulge too much, devotees assumed, celebrities being a constant target of opportunistic hangers on and all. Or maybe it was the Instagram video in which he detailed his “biggest pet peeve” about working with celebrities, a rant about entitled stars who use their fame as a crutch. But, in actuality, Lovato’s snark was symptomatic of a larger problem. The Texas-bred singer, who started drinking after falling in with the popular crowd at school before moving on to cocaine at age 17, was dipping back into her old ways.
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Sure, when called out for holding a drink while hanging with fellow Disney Channel alum, celebrating Hayley Kiyoko’s new album, she tweeted, “I don’t have to defend anything, but it was red bull.” But sources insist she was fueling herself with more than caffeine. “Demi has been suffering her addiction disease for months now and has been spiraling,” admits one insider, adding that while on her worldwide Tell Me You Love Me tour, she did her best to stay busy, “but she has definitely been having her ups and downs.”
Among the dips: Her desire to be more social, says the insider and privately party with friends. As recently as Monday night, she was spotted out in West Hollywood, Calif. celebrating the birthday of a close pal. She had also dropped some of the constants of her sober life. In addition to Bayer, says the insider, “She has distanced herself from many important people in her life and even let go of a few people on her team. Everyone has been urging her to get help with her life coach, and to seek treatment again, but Demi thought she could handle it on her own.”
In one regard, though, she never wavered. Even at what was arguably her lowest point, letting six years of hard-earned sobriety slip from her grasp, she was unwavering in her honesty. It was important, she felt, to let fans know even she, an influential celebrity with every resource at her disposal and millions of devoted Lovatics, was flawed, imperfect, human. Addiction doesn’t really discern in that way, after all.”She made the decision to come out publicly about her relapse recently because she thought she could inspire her fans,” says the insider, “and it would help her keep on track.”
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She had a job to do. A calling, really.”The reason why I became so open about my story is because I know that there are people here tonight that need to ask for help and I want them to know that it’s OK,” she told the crowd at a March tour stop in NYC. “Mental health is something that we all need to talk about and we need to take the stigma away from it. So let’s raise the awareness. Let’s let everybody know it’s OK to have a mental illness and addiction problem.”
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It’s a mission she had been spearheading almost singlehandedly for seven-plus years. After she came clean with that initial confession—the reason she was abruptly pulled from her tour with the Jonas Brothers to seek medical treatment in 2010 was because she had been grappling with substance abuse, addiction, an eating disorder, depression and self-inflicted harming for years—no detail was too embarrassing, too heartbreaking to share. Whether it was her inability to “go an hour without using cocaine,” or the fact that she ignored pleas from her own family, telling them “try to ground me—I pay your bills,” or that even after her 2011 release from rehab she continued drinking, filling Sprite bottles with vodka “just to get on a plane to go back to LA to the sober living house that I was staying at,” if it could help just one person, she would happily relay it to Refinery29, to Access Hollywood, to Seventeen. Her loftiest audience: Capitol Hill, where she traveled to advocate for mental health reform in 2014, speaking out about her own diagnosis with bipolar disorder. “We have the power to make a difference and we have the personal experience needed to be taken seriously,” she said during a speech on the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Day of Action. “We know what it means to have our lives or the lives of people we love get off track because of mental illness. We understand that mental illness can be serious and absolutely devastating. We also know mental illness can be treatable when we have access to appropriate, comprehensive care.”
Now, as reports seep out with updates on her recovery (her rep released a statement asserting she’s awake “and with her family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support”), her contemporaries are flooding the Internet with well wishes. The biggest is, of course, that she will be able to rise once more and share this latest chapter with others in need. While Lovato is clear she never set out to be an inspiration, a role model, it’s a life calling that found her. “When I have meet-and-greets, I can’t tell you the amount of times that girls will show me their arms covered in scars or cuts,” she told American Way magazine in 2016. “They’ll tell me, ‘You helped me get through this. Because of you, I stopped self-harming,’ or ‘I got sober.’ Hearing those things gave my life new meaning.”
And she, in turn, has helped so many others find a life worth living.
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