demi lovato
Source: YouTube Originals

Demi Lovato Says She Hasn't Been "By-the-Book Sober" Since 2019

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Mar. 17 2021, Updated 3:26 p.m. ET

The tell-all docuseries, Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil, chronicles the singer's struggles with addiction and her 2018 overdose. It may be the most vulnerable we've seen Demi. "I had three strokes, I had a heart attack, my doctors said I had five to 10 more minutes," Demi shares in the trailer.

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Her major overdose happened in 2018. And sadly, it appears that Demi suffered brain damage from it. “I was left with brain damage, and I still deal with the effects of that today. I don’t drive a car because I have blind spots in my vision. For a long time, I had a really hard time reading. It was a big deal when I was able to read a book, which was like two months later, because my vision was so blurry," Demi told ABC News.

demi lovato hospitalized
Source: YouTube Originals
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Is Demi Lovato sober now?

Following the release of the trailer for Dancing With the Devil, fans were concerned for Demi and wondering whether she has practiced sobriety in the years following her overdose. Now that the docuseries has been screened at the South by Southwest Film Festival, we have a bit more information about whether Demi is sober these days — and as it turns out, she isn't. Not in the traditional sense, anyway.

“I haven’t been by-the-book sober since the summer of 2019,” she says. “I realized if I don’t allow myself some wiggle room, I go to the hard s--t. And that will be the death of me.” She then goes on to say that she's "done with the stuff that's going to kill [her]," but that she still drinks alcohol and smokes weed "in moderation."

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"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," Demi says. "I had it drilled into my head for so many years that one drink was equivalent to a crack pipe." Finally, Demi admits that her approach certainly isn't for everyone, saying that "recovery isn't a one-size-fits-all solution."

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The docuseries also chronicles the difficulties Demi had with her first management team (headed by Phil McIntyre) over the years, and how that conflict contributed to her eventually giving up on remaining sober. In addition to monitoring any drug usage, her team also kept a close eye on what Demi was eating (she's had an eating disorder since she was young), which eventually led to an extremely unhealthy dynamic.

"I realized that over time as the things with [my] eating disorder were getting bad ... it progressively got worse and worse with people [on my team] checking what my orders at Starbucks were on my bank statements," Demi said.

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demi lovato
Source: YouTube Originals

Demi added, "Just little things like that led me to being really, really unhappy. My bulimia got really bad [again] and I asked for help and I didn't receive the help that I needed. So I was stuck in this unhappy position. Here I am sober and I'm thinking to myself: I'm six years sober, but I'm miserable. I'm even more miserable than I was when I was drinking. Why am I sober?”

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According to Demi, her team told her that she was being "selfish" when she reached out for help. She was told that if she broke her sobriety, it would "ruin things for not just you but for us as well."

Demi ultimately felt controlled. "My life, I just felt it was so — and I hate to use this word — but I felt it was controlled by so many people around me. If I was in a hotel room at night, they would take the phone out of my room so I couldn’t call room service — or if there was fruit in my room they would take it out because that’s extra sugar. We’re not talking about brownies ... it was fruit," she explained.

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demi lovato drinking
Source: YouTube Originals

Now, Demi is managed by a new team led by controversial figure Scooter Braun, and she seems to be much happier with the way things are handled. “I just remember crying because I was finally eating cake with a manager that didn't need anything from me and that loved me for who I am and supported my journey. I think at some point it becomes dangerous to try to control someone's food when they're in recovery from an eating disorder," Demi said. 

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What did Demi Lovato overdose on?

It was never disclosed what Demi overdosed on, but we do know that she was given Narcan, which helps revive people who have overdosed on a type of opiate (there are many kinds, including fentanyl and heroin). Although it was first reported that Demi overdosed on heroin, a source later refuted that claim. In the documentary, one person being interviewed did mention heroin, but again, it's unclear if that's what Demi was using and/or overdosed on.

Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil will be released in four parts on YouTube starting on March 23.

demi happy
Source: Instagram
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If you or someone you know needs help, use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find support for mental health and substance use disorders in your area: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov, or call 1-800-662-4357 for 24-hour assistance.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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