“His death honestly felt like it came out of nowhere…and yet I had been mourning him for years…if that makes any sense,” wrote singer JoJo (neé Joanna Levesque), shortly after her father’s death from drug addiction complications in late 2015.
In a video released last week, JoJo opened up about her father’s struggle, and about the impact it has created in her own life. Part of Vevo’s “Why I Vote” series, the video discusses JoJo’s hometown in New England, and the opioid crisis that the area continues to face.
JoJo’s father was one of the thousands of New England residents who became affected by the addiction epidemic. In turn, the Levesques make up one of the millions of American families that have experienced the harrowing realities of addiction. JoJo, an only child, stated that she first became aware of her father’s substance use at age 11 or 12.
Today, at age 25, she finds herself at a fresh start in her career, following a bitter battle with her former record label that prevented her from releasing new music. One of her more recent songs, “Save My Soul,” was inspired by her dad’s battle, and addresses the topic of addiction head-on.
Addiction, JoJo mentioned, has also surfaced in her personal life. “I’ve struggled with addiction in different forms, whether it’s addiction to love, to a person who’s not good for you, to food, to negative feelings,” she said in an interview with PEOPLE. “I’ve definitely abused alcohol; I’ve been depressed. You can just kind of go down a black hole and find yourself addicted to almost anything.”
“Save My Soul” is reminiscent of the emotional “powerlessness” that JoJo has associated with addiction, and the many ways it has presented itself in her life.
As recounted in the Vevo video, JoJo’s father experienced multiple relapses over many years, and attended multiple treatment programs. JoJo and her family grappled with situation, and were left with few options to combat his disease.
Now speaking out in honor of her father’s memory, JoJo reminds us of what is at stake in the midst of the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has reached alarming proportions.
Advocacy is crucial at this point, as the stigma associated with addiction continues to grow.
“It’s hard, I guess, to have sympathy for a lot of drug addicts because we think that it’s their fault or they asked for it or something, but you do not ask to have your life shaken up that way and to have everything taken from you. That’s what addiction does: it strips everything from you,” said JoJo.
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