Demi Lovato Reveals She Suffered from Brain Damage Following 2018 Overdose
Singer and actress Demi Lovato grew up in the spotlight—and her struggles with mental health and...
Singer and actress Demi Lovato grew up in the spotlight—and her struggles with mental health and substance abuse have been well-known to the public for many years. She struggled to stay sober throughout her teens and early adulthood, though eventually found sobriety at just 19 years of age.
Lovato remained sober for over six years, and spoke openly about her experiences in sobriety and in recovery from an eating disorder and self-harming, which began when she was very young. After getting her start in show business on the children’s TV show Barney and Friends, Lovato began binge-eating and purging at age nine. As she starred in roles for the Disney Channel, she fought a private health battle behind the scenes.
In her 2017 documentary, Simply Complicated, Lovato got personal about her struggles with eating disorders, as well her history of substance abuse, which she says began when she was a young teen. She later started experimenting with cocaine, and eventually sought mental health treatment, where she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Although Lovato completed treatment, her substance abuse continued—and intensified in the coming years. She admitted that she was not ready to be in recovery, stating in the documentary that, “I was sneaking [cocaine] on planes, sneaking it in bathrooms, sneaking it throughout the night—nobody knew.”
In 2013, Lovato got help a second time, and entered a sober living facility. Around this time, Lovato got serious about her sobriety, and was extremely candid with fans about her journey, often commemorating milestones on her social media pages. This long-term sobriety continued for nearly six years, and saw Lovato through some of the most successful years of her career.
Though beneath the surface of her public sobriety, Lovato still struggled. In 2018, headlines around the world revealed that she had overdosed—and that her life was in serious jeopardy.
Now speaking out about the traumatic events that unfolded before and after her relapse, Lovato revealed that she sustained lasting health effects, including brain damage and vision loss.
In a new documentary series for YouTube, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, Lovato states that she suffered from three strokes and a heart attack in the aftermath of her overdose. At a panel discussing the series, Lovato talked more about the circumstances that she continues to deal with as a result of her overdose and subsequent health events.
“I was left with brain damage, and I still deal with the effects of that today. I don’t drive a car, because I have blind spots on my vision. And I also for a long time had a really hard time reading. It was a big deal when I was able to read out of a book, which was like two months later because my vision was so blurry,” she said.
Lovato’s story serves as a stark reminder of the significant health effects that one can face following an overdose, and of how life can change drastically in an instant.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Lovato reflected on the roads she’s taken—and how she has changed.
“Everything had to happen in order for me to learn the lessons that I learned. It was a painful journey, and I look back and sometimes I get sad when I think of the pain that I had to endure to overcome what I have, but I don’t regret anything,” she said.
As she speaks out and continues to provide an honest dialogue about the struggles of maintaining long-term sobriety and managing chronic mental health conditions, Lovato will serve as an inspiration to those who have been in her shoes—and to those who are searching for hope.
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