Singer Demi Lovato’s Overdose Highlights the Sad Reality of Drug Abuse

A drug counselor who helps celebrities with their addictions shared key insights on Fox News' 'The Ingraham Angle'

Image Credit: Screenshot, VEVO

Pop singer Demi Lovato’s drug overdose earlier this week could have ended tragically — and it highlights just how big a problem addiction can be in anyone’s life.

The singer’s overdose reportedly occurred during a party at her home on Tuesday, as she was celebrating the birthday of one of her backup dancers. She was revived with Narcan — so there was speculation she may have overdosed on heroin, although the medication can be used to block the impact of a wide array of opioids.

“This story follows an all too familiar pattern,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham said Thursday night on “The Ingraham Angle.” “Let’s face it: Incredibly talented people [are] surrounding themselves with hangers on and enablers. Too often, this ends in tragedy.”

In recent years, this has certainly been the case. Prince, Whitney Houston and Tom Petty are among the biggest singers who have passed away this decade as a result of drug overdoses.

Lovato is only 25 years old and has already dealt with her share of addiction problems. When she was just 18, the former Disney Channel star took up residence in a sober living home in the hopes of curbing her addiction.

However, she revealed in a song this June called “Sober” that she’d relapsed after six years of sobriety from alcohol, cocaine and Oxycontin. The chorus of that song goes: “Momma, I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore. And Daddy, please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor. To the ones who never left me, we’ve been down this road before. I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore.”

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Lovato’s overdose is part of a bigger, societal issue: Why are there so many celebrities, who seemingly have it all, turning to drug abuse?

Celebrity drug counselor Sonya Veytsman appeared on “The Ingraham Angle” to discuss the topic.

“There’s this conception that fame and wealth can serve as a buffer from vulnerability to a mental illness or addiction,” Veytsman told Ingraham. “It doesn’t. Psychologists have come up with a hypothesis called a diathesis stress model. It sort of explains why certain vulnerabilities emerge and it talks about genetic predisposition combined with any sort of environmental stress. When the mix of the two meets a certain threshold, mental illness or addiction can emerge … I know [Demi] has been pretty vocal about her father having a history of substance abuse and substance trauma.”

A study from Drug-Free America found that stress is the number-one reason teens start using drugs — with 73 percent giving that reasoning. Keep in mind that Lovato began her career as an actor in 2002 and has been singing and acting regularly since 2008, when she was only 15. The stress she may have felt from that, as well as from having a father she’s described as “abusive,” might help explain the problem.

Ingraham asked this: If people around Lovato were (and are) aware of her struggles, why are they putting her in a spot where she could relapse?

“They know that she is vulnerable, and presumably they’re not totally dumb people, although they sound pretty dumb here,” she said. “They know she can end up dead, and this is who she’s hanging out with. Her family has already tried to intervene unsuccessfully. But who are these friends?”

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“If you’re an addict, the number-one thing” is to stay from “people who enable you,” she added.

It’s worth noting that Lovato’s friends already had Narcan on hand prior to the overdose; presumably they were anticipating drug use and that something like this could happen.

A major part of beating drug addiction concerns the company a person keeps, Veytsman reiterated.

“A big part of addiction is ambivalence and the new model of treatment tries to address that with things like harm reduction and motivational interviewing, which helps people reconcile, resolve or address some of that ambivalence,” she said. “Whenever someone is abusing drugs, typically, there’s a lot of conflict [within that person] about continuing the drug use or whatever substance or stopping.”

Lovato’s friends already had Narcan on hand before the overdose; presumably they were anticipating drug use and that something like this could happen.

Veytsman added that often there’s a “secondary gain” to abuse, perhaps a sense of escape or of numbing the pain a person feels. This dependence, she said, can outweigh the desire to change in addicts, which is why their relapse rate is in the 40 to 60 percent range.

Beating drug abuse is a long and difficult process  — and Lovato’s story is proof of the struggle.

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday and other outlets.

Tom Joyce
meet the author

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

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