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In Demi Lovato’s YouTube documentary, Dancing with the Devil, the singer-actress and her loved ones talk candidly about her 2018 overdose. Demi even shares at one point that she’s “just going to say it all,” adding that the production team can take out anything if they decide not to use it.
She's taking that one step further with her newest song, also titled "Dancing with the Devil," in which she clearly references her substance abuse and overdose in the lyrics and music video scenes. Demi belts from a hospital bed as friends and family gather near.
Demi is also talking more about her overdose, sharing with TMZ Live in a new interview that the experience pushed her to make the most out of her life.
Fans were understandably concerned about Demi’s health after her overdose and, while she’s referenced it and her sobriety since, she hasn’t gone into explicit details until now.
But what, exactly, happened to Demi during that time? The documentary premiered on March 23, and wow. There’s a lot in there.
Here’s what we know about Demi Lovato's overdose and recovery right now.
She has survivor's guilt.
Demi shared in a new interview that she has survivor’s guilt after learning of rapper DMX’s reported overdose. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, survivor’s guilt is a mental condition that can happen when someone feels guilty that they survived a traumatic event when other people didn’t.)
Demi told TMZ Live that the news of DMX’s overdose hit home. "Anytime that I see somebody OD or even pass away that's in the public eye, I immediately think, 'That could have been you, had you not been putting all this work into the last couple years of your life,'" she said. "There's times where I've even talked about feeling survivor's guilt because you do ask yourself why am I still here? Why are others not?”
A source close to DMX told ET that medical staff tried to revive the rapper twice at his house after he was found, and “revived him again in the hospital.” DMX’s attorney told NBC News that the rapper had a heart attack and is currently on life support.
Demi added that survivor’s guilt is a “challenging thing to get over."
She’s ‘grateful’ to be here.
Demi said that she’s trying to focus on the positive, despite her past experiences. "Ultimately, I had to realize that every day is a day that someone else doesn't get," she told TMZ Live. "Every day that I'm here on this earth is a day that I need to be counting my blessings for and just being appreciative and grateful for it.”
Demi said that realization has fueled her and pushed her to do even more with her life. “It makes me want to live the best life I can possibly live, knowing that others didn't get the same chance that I did,” she said.
The documentary breaks down what was happening in Demi’s life before her overdose.
Michael D. Ratner, who both directed Dancing with the Devil produced it with his company OBB Media, told The Hollywood Reporter that what people think happened on the night of the overdose "is probably pretty far from what really did."
"What hasn't been documented is the details of her life that led to that night...we provide that opportunity for you to have a whole picture here," he said. The first two episodes of the docuseries break down when Demi relapsed and what happened afterward in the hospital.
Demi had a team of people monitoring her before her overdose.
Demi said she had assistants, a wellness coach, dietitian, nutritionist, and therapist to help monitor her and make sure she didn’t relapse. They were even drug tested, and she wasn’t allowed to be around anyone who wasn't sober.
Demi said she started relapsing in her eating disorder before her drug overdose and was also over-exercising. “I feel like decisions have been made for me more so than I have made decisions for myself,” she said of that time.
She overdosed on July 24, 2018.
Demi was rushed to the hospital the morning after she overdosed. In audio from a 911 call played during the trailer, someone can be heard saying, “We just need to get somebody out here."
By mid-afternoon, Demi was responsive. "Demi is awake and with her family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support. Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy," her rep shared in a statement to TMZ.
Demi was given heroin the night of her overdose.
The trailer features several of Demi’s friends talking about the overdose. “Are we talking about heroin? Are we doing that?” one of her friends says in the trailer. Another friend, Sirah Mitchell, reveals Demi was given heroin "laced with fentanyl," per People. Mitchell added her dealer, "ended up getting her really high and leaving her for dead."
She was treated with Narcan, an emergency medication for opioid overdoses, in the hospital, per TMZ. At the time, law enforcement also told the publication it appeared to be a heroin overdose.
Demi said during her 2017 YouTube documentary, Simply Complicated that she tried cocaine when she was 17 and a star on the Disney channel. "I was with a couple friends, and they introduced me to it," she said. "I was scared, because my mom always told me your heart could just burst if you do it, but I did it anyways. And I loved it."
Demi admits trying a wide variety of drugs in the months before her overdose. One night, she says she mixed meth, molly, weed, alcohol, and oxycontin, per People. "That alone should've killed me," she says. Not long after, she tried crack cocaine and heroin.
Demi was very sick after her overdose.
Her assistant, Jordan Jackson, found her unresponsive, per People. "There was one point where she turned blue. Her whole body turned blue. I was like, she's dead for sure," Jackson says. "It was the craziest thing I had ever seen."
Demi shared in the trailer that she had three strokes and a heart attack after she overdosed. “My doctors said that I had five to 10 more minutes,” she said at one point. Her oxygen levels were dangerously low and decreasing, which compromised her vision.
Demi says her dealer assaulted her after getting her high.
It took her a while to realize what actually happened, though. "When they found me, I was naked, blue. I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me," Demi says on camera, per People. "When I woke up in the hospital, they asked if we had had consensual sex. There was one flash that I had of him on top of me. I saw that flash and I said yes. It wasn't until a month after the overdose that I realized, 'You weren't in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.'"
It was Demi's second sexual assault. "When I was a teenager, I was in a very similar situation," she recalled on camera. "I lost my virginity in a rape... I didn't have the romantic first time," Lovato says. "That was not it for me — that sucked. Then I had to see this person all the time so I stopped eating and coped in other ways."
Her family and friends weren’t totally aware that she was struggling before the overdose.
“Demi is very good at hiding what she needs to hide,” her sister says in one clip in the trailer. “I snapped,” Demi says in another clip. "I was really good at hiding that I was addicted to crack and heroin."
There were signs that she was in danger, though. In June, Demi released a new single called “Sober” that featured the lyrics, “I’m sorry for the fans I lost who watched me fall again. I want to be a role model but I’m only human.” She also sang, “I’m sorry that I’m here again. I promise I’ll get help.”
Demi says she used drugs as a coping mechanism.
In an upcoming episode of Diane Guerrero's podcast Yeah No, I'm Not Okay, Demi opens up about the mental health struggles that led to her drug abuse, per E! News. "I would look at people in the media and I would just compare myself, not feel good enough, not feel thin enough, and wonder how it was that these people were living lives that seemed so perfect but yet I was in so much pain,” she said of her young Hollywood peers. “And when I got into the spotlight, I was like, 'Oh, it's not perfect here, nobody has a perfect life, it just looks that way.'"
Demi explained that she used drugs to cope with the stress of living a very public life and suicidal thoughts. "In the same way [my addiction] almost killed me, it saved my life at times, because there were times that I dealt with suicidal ideations,” she said. “And had I gone forward with that in that moment, instead of another destructive coping mechanism, I wouldn't be here to tell my story."
Demi gets candid about her father’s battle with addiction.
"Growing up my whole life I longed for that relationship with him and then I resented him because he was an addict and an alcoholic and was abusive to my mom,” Demi said of her dad. She eventually cut him out of her life, and, she said, his death was “complicated.”
Demi shared that her family doesn't know when, exactly, he died. "By the time he was found, his body was too decomposed to have an open casket,” she said. “He had been laying there, I think, for about a week and a half before anybody found him and during that was Father's Day.”
Now, she advocates for mental health resources.
On Guerrero’s podcast, Demi said that she "turned to those coping mechanisms because I genuinely was in so much pain that I didn't want to die and I didn't know what else to do." Now, she has other resources, like therapy. "I did the best that I could at times and now that I have other tools and other resources, I know how else to deal and how else to cope so I don't have to resort to those behaviors again," she said.
Aside from seeking ongoing treatment, Demi is done trying to fit the mold of Hollywood. Instead, she's committing to a more nuanced expression of her identity. "I've tried on many identities over the years—the sexy feminine pop star that I felt like people wanted me to be or the poster child for recovery—and now I'm embracing the fact that my lack of commitment to any one identity isn't a lack of commitment," she said, "it's just an openness to continue to evolve."
She was filming another documentary at the time.
Demi was in the middle of her "Tell Me You Love Me" tour before her overdose and, she shared, she was shooting a different documentary. That’s now been shelved. Why? Demi said it wasn’t an honest look at her life. "I wasn't showing them what I was doing behind closed doors," she said. However, Dancing With the Devil includes some BTS footage from that documentary.
She is still dealing with the after-effects of her overdose.
Demi opened up about them during a press call to promote her new documentary. "I was left with brain damage, and I still deal with the effects of that today,” she said, per the Associated Press. “I don't drive a car because there are blind spots in my vision. I also for a long time had a really hard time reading. I feel like they kind of are still there to remind me of what could happen if I ever get into a dark place again."
Demi said that she’s “grateful” for those “reminders” and said she needed a lot of emotional therapy during her recovery. “I did a lot of work after that, just not physically,” she said.
In recent years, Demi has found a "balance."
For her, that means not completely cutting out marijuana and alcohol, although she did completely cut out what caused her overdose. The "all or nothing" world of sobriety wasn't a good fit for her and her mental health, she revealed in an interview with Glamour. Demi told her recovery case manager Charles Cook: "I think I want to try this balance thing in the substance side of my life too."
She took what she learned from eating disorder recovery and applied it to her sobriety. "What I’m encouraging people to do is just make choices for themselves. Autonomy, for me, is what changed my life."
Demi sings about her substance abuse and overdose in her new song "Dancing with the Devil."
The music video begins with a hospital scene and Demi appearing blue, as she described in her documentary. She references her near-death experience in the lyrics: "I was dancing with the devil, out of control, Almost made it to Heaven, It was closer than you know..."
Lyrics like "It's just a little white line, I'll be fine, But soon, that little white line is a little glass pipe, Tinfoil remedy, almost got the best of me" add more details to her substance abuse struggles at the time.
The text, "a true story by Demi Lovato," appears on the screen at the end of the video.
Demi reveals her "survivor" tattoo on her neck in the video.
She adds a close-up shot on Instagram, so you definitely won't miss the meaningful ink. Demi added in the caption: "#DancingWithTheDevil music video is out now 🎞🖤🤍🎥 Thank you for listening, and thank you for hearing me. If you or someone you know is in need of support, please remember it’s ok to ask for help."
A view of the tattoo and Demi triumphantly leaving her hospital bed concludes the powerful music video.
Dancing with the Devil premiered on YouTube on March 23.
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