Content Advisory Warning: This article contains language regarding substance abuse and addiction.
“FYI, I’m just gonna say it all.” These were the first words uttered by singer-songwriter Demi Lovato in her four part documentary series, Dancing With The Devil. To the viewer, it seemed like Demi held nothing back. I have chills thinking about what more information she could have shared, but kept hidden. The series was released in late March 2021 after filming in Spring 2020, during lockdown. Demi tells a detailed account of her July 2018 heroin overdose, which nearly ended her life. Demi’s former assistant, body guards, friends, and family shared their own testimonies. Everything I thought I knew about Demi Lovato was tested upon watching Dancing With The Devil. Demi was more honest than I expected and more resilient than anyone ever knew.
During the Spring of 2018, Demi Lovato was touring the U.S. for her sold-out Tell Me You Love Me Tour. Her album had multiple hit songs. To the public, Demi appeared to be at the peak of her career. To millions of people, she was not only a popular musician, she was an activist. She was 6 years sober, an inspiration for those battling addiction and mental health struggles. Then, on June 21, 2018, Demi released her single, “Sober.” She revealed publicly that she was no longer sober from drugs and alcohol. Demi explained in Dancing With The Devil that her former drug cocktail was Xanax and cocaine. When she relapsed, her dealer convinced her to try heroin and crack. One month after releasing “Sober,” Demi overdosed in her home, and the world was stunned.
I won’t tell Demi’s story verbatim here. I could never do it justice. I do, however, want to share some of my thoughts about Dancing With The Devil.
The series was raw and true. It was innately human. It was heartbreaking to hear testimonies from Demi’s family and friends. They were truly expecting her to die. I was inspired by their loyalty to Demi. Every person in the series stated that they would never give up on her; I could feel the emotion through the computer screen. I subsequently felt grateful for my own loyal support systems.
Demi Lovato is a creator of brilliant music. Her voice moves me now, like it did in 2009. Since watching Dancing With The Devil, I have been listening to her new album by the same name. In more ways than one, music heals. I am relieved that Demi still desires to share her gift with the world, after overcoming years of trauma. I hope Demi is proud of her new music because it is her most triumphant yet.
Demi Lovato never signed up to be idolized. She never wanted to be the poster child for sobriety. Demi formerly lived a life that was out of her control. Her story is a bleak reminder that celebrities are still human. We hold our “favorite people” to insurmountable standards of beauty, class, and talent. We are trying to mold real people into a perfect image that to any “normal person” would be unattainable. We must encourage our favorite stars to burn bright, not burn out. Because even fame and money cannot help people do better. We must help each other do better.