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 their 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 they 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 their July 2018 heroin overdose, which nearly ended their 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 Spring of 2018, Demi Lovato was touring the U.S. for their sold out Tell Me You Love Me Tour. Demi’s album had multiple hit songs. To the public, Demi appeared to be at the peak of their career. To millions of people, they were not only a popular musician, they were an activist. They were 6 years sober, an inspiration for those battling addiction and mental health struggles. Then, on June 21, 2018, Demi released a new single, “Sober.” Demi revealed publicly that they were no longer sober from drugs and alcohol. Demi explained in Dancing With The Devil that their former drug cocktail was Xanax and cocaine. When Demi relapsed, their dealer convinced them to try heroin and crack. One month after releasing “Sober,” Demi overdosed in their 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 them to die. I was inspired by their loyalty to Demi. Every person in the series stated that they would never give up on Demi; 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. Their voice moves me now, like it did in 2009. Since watching Dancing With The Devil, I have been listening to their new album by the same name. In more ways than one, music heals. I am relieved that Demi still desires to share their gift with the world, after overcoming years of trauma. I hope Demi is proud of their new music because it is their most triumphant yet.
Demi Lovato never signed up to be idolized. They never wanted to be the poster child for sobriety. Demi formerly lived a life that was out of their control. Their 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.