Demi Lovato, and the Trials of Rehabilitation

On Tuesday night, singer and former Disney Star was found and admitted to the hospital on assumed drug overdose, after a night of partying with her friends. Fortunately, she has survived the overdose, unlike so many other recent stars that suffered the same fate. But unfortunately, this surprise overdose has come at a shock to many, who had previously believed Lovato to have been sober for a long time.

Well, that is if you didn’t know about one of her newer songs, titled “Sober”, proclaiming her sorrow over her relapse after six years. It was released a month ago, shocking fans with the line “I’m not Sober Anymore” appearing so prominently in the chorus. Her relapse and hospitalization, and the deaths of so many other celebrities, tell of the struggles of overcoming addiction and staying sober.

So, what happened with Demi Lovato? Well, even before finishing her days with Disney, she had fallen into a cocaine and Xanax addiction, to which she eventually went to her first time for. However, she relapsed not long after, and has said in her documentary Simply Complicated that “I hadn’t been ready to get sober” when talking about her first time out of rehab (2017). Not long after, she went to rehab again, this time with a more committed attitude. By the time she became a judge on X-Factor in 2013, she had started living in a “sober” apartment, one with other recovering addicts as they adjust back to living independent lives.

In 2017, Demi Lovato made the aforementioned documentary Simply Complicated, where she documents her struggle with not only drug addiction, but also her bulimia and bipolar disorder. She opens all to her fans, inspiring millions with her heart-felt truth.

In March of this year, Demi Lovato celebrated her sixth year of being sober with a tweet reading “Just officially turned 6 years sober. So grateful for another year of joy, health and happiness. It IS possible.”

With her openness about her struggle and fight for sobriety, many looked up to her as a role model, seeing the image of successful rehabilitation. But with the release of “Sober”, the image of a sober Demi came to a screeching halt. The song revealed that she had relapsed a few months prior to the song’s release, and that culminated into her hospitalization on Tuesday night. Her story is a classic, but sad one, one that happens all too often.

I understand that the idea that Demi Lovato relapsed after 6 years might seem bizarre. The longer you spend without drugs, the less you’ll want them, right? Well, if that was the case, then how was Carrie Fisher found with substances during her autopsy? She may not have died of overdose, but the fact that she did have drugs in her system after being sober for so long does say something.

You see, trying to stay sober doesn’t work with time. It’s a constant battle, one that continues throughout a former addict’s whole life. You see, when you’re an addict, three major parts of the brain are affected: the basil ganglia (positive forms of motivation), the extended amygdala (deals with stressful emotions and thoughts), and the prefontal cortex (deals with decision making). All of these are the most important for fighting addiction, and are also the most affected.

Particularly with cocaine, this comes as a result of a surge of natural neurotransmitters released as a result, disrupting the normal recycling process for the brain. When it suddenly has to function again, it begins to crave that rush. When a person gets stressed, it begins to crave that rush. The brain is complex but lazy, and when faced with problems, it will immediately want what is easily accessible to it. The person has to have a strong enough will to fight the craving, and is not always able to do so.

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