Just a day ago, outspoken advocate for mental health and addiction Demi Lovato released her single ‘Sober’ in which she shares her truth: she has relapsed after 6 years of sobriety. Lovato, who began using cocaine at 17, has been open about her struggles with drugs and alcohol for years. Her candor and positivity have served as an inspiration to many in the community, but her road to recovery has not been easy.
In her October 2017 documentary, Lovato shared that her first try at sobriety didn’t take off. Her management confirmed that Lovato was often high while doing interviews promoting a sober lifestyle. “I wasn’t working my program, I wasn’t ready to get sober. I was sneaking cocaine on planes, I was sneaking it in bathrooms, sneaking it throughout the night,” Lovato admitted in the documentary.
Since getting sober six years ago, Lovato has shared her struggles, including wanting to drink after attending the 2016 Met Gala. And now, Lovato is sharing a harsh reality of addiction — relapses can happen.
“To the ones who never left me/ We’ve been down this road before / I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore,” Lovato, sings in her new single. She goes on to say, “I wanna be a role model / But I’m only human … I’m sorry that I’m here again / I promise I’ll get help / It wasn’t my intention / I’m sorry to myself.”
While many were shocked by Lovato’s relapse, as she has been the image of strength in recovery, the reality is that relapses are often a part of recovery. And just as addiction is not a moral shortcoming, neither is relapsing. Lovato’s honesty shines a light on the fact that addiction is a chronic disease that cannot be cured. Staying sober isn’t easy and requires that you actively work on your recovery, whether that is AA, counseling, or working with a recovery coach.
In the past, Lovato has mentioned that she struggles with feelings of loneliness saying, “When I feel lonely, my heart feels hungry…and I don’t know how to figure out how to be alone.” For many, the feeling of isolation can be a trigger, as are stress, anxiety, and depression. Ignoring mental health concerns is particularly dangerous for those with a history of substance abuse. Other triggers include being surrounded by people who use or do not support your sober lifestyle, and loss of a loved one, job, or home.
While relapses do occur, they often come with warning signs, and it is important to know how to recognize them in time. Some red flags that could signal a relapse include:
- Romanticizing past substance abuse
- Not practicing self-care
- Thinking that one time won’t hurt
- Trying to justify reasons to use or drink
- Spending time alone
- Not attending meetings, not reaching out to your support network, and becoming passive in your recovery
Despite her relapse, Lovato continues to be an inspiration to her young fans who have shown her nothing but unwavering support since the release of her single. She is a reminder that recovery is a lifelong journey and no one should be afraid to reach out for help when they need it. It is important to remember that a relapse is not a sign of failure, simply a sign that you need to recommit to your recovery.