Demi Lovato’s teenage drug use problems turned out to be more serious than she thought

Demi Lovato has long been candid with fans about her struggles with addiction. In 2018, the “Holy Fvck” singer nearly died after suffering a heroin overdose, according to TMZ. This came shortly after she released her single “Sober,” in which she revealed she had been using drugs again. After 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’ve had three strokes. I had a heart attack. My doctors said I had five to 10 minutes left.” Per The New York Times, the overdose followed “six years of sobriety” and caused “three strokes, a heart attack, and organ failure,” along with brain damage and permanent complications with her vision.

As late as 2021, Lovato spoke about her decision to lead a “California sober” lifestyle, or one that allowed her to smoke marijuana and have 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. “I realized 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 make something the most authentic is to make it clean and sober ,” she said. Lovato’s sobriety is particularly notable because she has struggled with drug use for longer than her fans may know.

Demi Lovato experimented with drugs and alcohol when she was 13

On Aug. 24, Demi Lovato — who revealed in August that she was using her pronouns again — appeared on Alexandra Cooper’s Call Her Daddy podcast and spoke about trying drugs and alcohol at a young age. “I started experimenting when I was 12 or 13,” she explained. “I was in a car accident and they prescribed me opiates. My mother didn’t think she needed to lock up her 13-year-old daughter’s opiates, but I was already drinking by this point. I was being bullied and I was looking for a way out.”

Due to bullying, Lovato described “drinking heavily” in her teenage years. She also noted that the first time she drank she was alone, which she now realizes was “a big red flag.” In her late teens, the Disney Channel graduate experimented with hard drugs. “It was the first time I tried coke when I was 17 and loved it too much and then kind of bled into myself going into treatment right after I was 18,” she shared.

While Lovato’s struggles aren’t unique (especially for former child stars!), her candid admissions are rather unusual. Additionally, Lovato’s experiences have helped change the lives of other celebrities like Lili Reinhart. In an August interview with IndieWire, the Riverdale grad cited Lovato as an inspiration, telling the outlet, “When I was…12, the only person I heard talking about her mental health was Demi Lovato.”

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