Demi’s Overdose Shakes The Recovery Community

Over the years, there have been a number of celebrities that have become beacons of inspiration for the rest of us in the recovery community. Rob Lowe, Russel Brand, and Robert Downey Jr are just a few that have either kickstarted or perpetuated the sobriety movement in some way.

Much like every other instance in life, we watch the celebrities face personal trials and triumphs and we collectively mourn or celebrate according. When these people are at the top of their game we are all on the sidelines rooting for them, and even more stunning, when they are down-and-out we collectively feel a loss.

They open up a very personal part of their lives to us, and in return, we loyally show unwavering support and embrace them.

Demi Lovato is one of these people. Even with her most recent relapse to heroin, you can't ignore her prior accomplishments.

With six years of sobriety behind her, having been open about her diagnosis with bipolar disorder, and recovering from ED (eating disorders), it is hard not to view Demi with anything less than admiration.

-I use the present tense 'is' because nothing about her recent events can diminish these obstacles she has overcome.

It's especially devastating when it comes just barely 30 days after a revealing performance in California.

concert at night

This June, while performing her breakthrough song 'Sober',  Lovato became visibly shaken on stage, and later became too choked up to sing. In the song, she apologizes to her parents and even goes on to add that she can and will do better at beating this addiction. She became too distraught to sing, and the crowd rallied in support and encouraging chants, where she regained composure and continued on, finishing the song with thunderous applause.

It is often this raw, vulnerable honesty that endears Lovato to fans and recovering addicts in one fell swoop. We feel her highs and her lows as addicts and we empathize with the struggles, albeit on a much lesser scale, I imagine.

-recovery is difficult enough, can you even fathom doing it on a world stage for everyone to see and scrutinize? I think a lot of us have caved to lesser drugs under less pressure than that.

Now opioid deaths are at an all-time high and climbing annually.

In the span of one year, from 2015-16, overdose death tolls rose almost entirely 20% just from heroin alone. That was two years ago, and I think it's safe to say numbers haven't drastically decreased in the years following.

Earlier this year, we lost Philip Seymour Hoffman to an overdose to the drug, which brought renewed light to the death tolls that still stand firm on the 100 people a day. That means more than 35,000 people every single year; a seemingly incomprehensible number of people to just watch slip away.

Now, just about 24 hours after Demi's overdose the entire recovery community feels a bit like we have sat through the aftershock of an earthquake. Luckily they found her in time, although unresponsive. For the recovery community, we don't need to know the hard statistic that 105 people die daily in the United States from an overdose in order to tell you, that's too close for comfort. Although it does drive home one famous recovery quote.

"Sobriety is never owned, it's rented, and rent is due every day."

eruption of volcano during dawn

Addiction is a dormant volcano, always bubbling just beneath the surface, always searching for the tiniest crack to seep through. Slowly at first, until before long, there is a giant fissure, and lava begins to rain down havoc on our beautifully built lives.

It doesn't discriminate, it affects the rich, poor, successful, uneducated, scholarly, all alike.

Addiction does not care about your background or ethnicity. Nor does it care how you were raised, where you work, who you love or what you know.

Addiction is ruthless.

As a community, I know we feel this relapse especially hard, not just as fans of Demi Lovato, but as humans who know the daily struggle of battling addiction. We empathize with the pain, the hole inside of use that needs to be filled, and thus the desire to fill it with something outside of ourselves.

Every single day, we wake up and fight a war with ourselves that not many people understand, and every day that we survive is a victory. That is what life in recovery is all about.

One thing I read a lot in recovery is the saying, "you will relapse and that's ok,"  and I honestly can't attest for the veracity of the statement as it pertains to me. In fact, the statement itself used to really rub me the wrong way. I have not relapsed, nor is that the plan.

Although now, I get it. Look, clearly I don't know Demi Lovato, but I know myself enough to know that if I was in her shoes right now, I would want someone to tell me,

"It's ok. It's going to be ok."

Perhaps, that's what we are all looking for anyway.

And it will be ok; as long as you have another moment, another minute, another second to start again.

Sending you love, light and positivity during this time Demi!

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