Demi Lovato has blind spots after her overdose, can no longer drive

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Demi Lovato finished a lot of projects during quarantine. She’s working on a new album, she finished decorating her dream home, and she finished her four-part YouTube documentary, Dancing with the Devil. Her objective with the documentary is to be upfront about everything that led up to and followed her 2018 overdose, including the changes she has made to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Demi was interviewed by Glamour and if her honesty in this interview is a precursor to the documentary, it should be one heck of a doc. Demi disclosed to Glamour that the physical side effects of her overdose are that she was left with enough blind spots that she no longer drives and that she suffers from tinnitus.

On what she learned from her brief engagement:
“When I started getting older, I started realizing how queer I really am,” Lovato says, beaming. “This past year, I was engaged to a man and when it didn’t work, I was like, ‘This is a huge sign.’ I thought I was going to spend my life with someone. Now that I wasn’t going to, I felt this sense of relief that I could live my truth.”

On finding her sexuality:
“I know who I am and what I am, but I’m just waiting until a specific timeline to come out to the world as what I am. I’m following my healers’ timeline, and I’m using this time to really study and educate myself on my journey and what I’m preparing to do.” She continues: “I hooked up with a girl and was like, ‘I like this a lot more.’ It felt better. It felt right.”

On pressure from her fans:
“My fans react when I color my hair,” she says. “If they didn’t like it, I saw it.” She recalls one instance in 2014 when she dyed her hair pink, then shaved half her head; the overwhelming negative response crushed her. “It reignited that fear inside of me of being who I really am.”

On the ramifications of her overdose:
She talks about the medical side effects of her overdose for the first time, which include blind spots. Lovato tells me about a time when she went to pour a glass of sweet tea and missed the glass. On our Zoom, she says she can’t see my nose or mouth while looking at my eyes. She can no longer drive. Lovato also has tinnitus, often associated with hearing loss, because of the overdose but says her music hasn’t been affected. If anything, she thinks the music’s gotten better. “I’m the type of person that when you take something out of my life, something else just becomes more beautiful,” she says. “I think that when the universe shuts one door, it opens another or there’s a window to open. It just depends on your perspective and how you choose to look at it.”

On her version of sobriety:
Lovato says she’s done with the substances that caused her overdose, but that telling herself she can never have a drink or smoke a little weed again is only setting herself up for failure.

“I called [her recovery case manager] and was like, ‘Something’s not right. I’m living one side of my life completely legalizing and this other side following a program that’s telling me if I slip up, I’m going to die…I think I want to try this balance thing in the substance side of my life, too.’” She continues that her team was worried yet supportive. “They were like, ‘She deserves this opportunity to make that choice for herself.’ So I did.”

[From Glamour]

I tried Googling what causes vision loss due to a drug overdose and there are so many factors that I left it alone. In the trailer for the doc, posted below, they mention that Demi was at dangerously low oxygen levels during her overdose and that may have affected it as well. What I was hoping to learn was if her vision and/or hearing might eventually correct itself and I don’t know. But it sounds like Demi has accepted it and is making the best of her situation. That will allow her to move on. Thank goodness she can still make music. She said because she’s sitting in the backseat with headphones on, that’s allowed her to focus more and is why her music is better.

I admit I don’t know much about drug addiction/recovery but I, too, am concerned about Demi’s idea that she needs to open the window on allowing substances back in her life. In the interview, she set this up on the idea of intuitive eating, which is something Camila Mendes just discussed as well. Demi and Camila both struggle with food disorders and intuitive eating is helpful for people who have those. I’ve never had a drug addiction. But I’ve had a food disorder and the big challenge is you cannot give up food entirely, so you have to redefine your relationship with it. Perhaps a drug counselor or sobriety coach can correct me, but it doesn’t seem like the idea of intuitive eating is interchangeable when it comes to drugs. Demi was sober for six years prior to her overdose. She’s been sober only three years since. She just ended an engagement that went very wrong. I really hope that she’s on the right path to wellness and sobriety.

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Photo credit: Amanda Charchian/Glamour and YouTube

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46 Responses to “Demi Lovato has blind spots after her overdose, can no longer drive”

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  1. Esmom says:

    I’m not sure what to think about her wanting to drink or use substances again. I remember reading an article in the New Yorker about how total abstinence, like AA promotes, does indeed set most people up for failure. But it seems many addicts’ brains are wired in a way that makes them incapable of moderation. Hopefully she really is surrounded by people who will support her in making healthy choices and guide her away if she doesn’t. It is scary to think about where opening the door to substances might lead again.

  2. Merricat says:

    I lost a family member to addiction, and in my experience, moderation is not a good idea. Addiction tells you that you can handle it, that you’re in control. And maybe you’re good for a year, maybe even more. Addiction finds a way to justify itself. But it’s just a slow slide back into hell.

    • Nanny to the Rescue says:

      I had an ex with alcohol/substance abuse issues, and he would also think moderation could work. But it never did. (Or it did for some time, but then it pulled him back in.) 3 weeks sober (this is easy peasy!), then 2 beers Saturday night out, then “what harm can the 3rd beer do?”, and from there to full blown downfall was super fast. :(

      It takes an iron will every day for the rest of your life to fight addiction, and they’re not overreacting when they say it’s a disease for life.

      I wish Demi well. I hope this works for her, or if it doesn’t, that she realizes it in time and seeks help again.

    • Sally says:

      Yeah, I come from a family of drunks and addicts and I can safely say that the moderation approach doesn’t work. Not just in my family, I’ve seen it elsewhere too and “I’ll just use the socially accepted drugs once in a while” is a lie way too many people tell themselves. I’m happy that she’s finding herself in her sexual orientation, so I hope that will help her sort out the emotional ballast she obviously carries, but if she wants to stay off drugs, she needs to cut them out of her life permanently.

  3. Cee says:

    I wish her well but if she starts consuming alcohol and weed unchecked, not only by herself but a third party, she will slowly buy surely end up where she started. She knows how she reacts to addictive substances – she lost part of her vision to it.

    So much substance alters your brain and if she had very low oxygen levels then I believe she should be thankful she experienced so little damage. She was SO lucky.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      I didn’t even know until she shared her experience that an overdose could permanently damage your vision.

  4. sa says:

    It may be her version of the “one day at a time” approach. Like her telling herself that she may, at some point, be able to have these things in moderation is less daunting than telling herself she can never have it again. I know it’s not close to the same thing, but I know for me if I tell myself that I can’t have some specific junk food, it becomes all I want. But, if I’ll have some later, I can move on often completely forget about even wanting it.

    I hope she has a great support system to help her with everything.

  5. Emily says:

    I understand why moderation seems like a good concept, but weed if often laced so unless she’s getting it from a legal government source, I’d be concerned.

    • Piratewench says:

      Lol I’ve been buying weed for almost 20 years and never had any laced weed. My father bought weed for like 50 years, I am surrounded by weed smokers who buy weed and I have never once heard of laced weed. Crappy weed, sure. But laced?
      Have you ever personally heard of this happening to anyone? Honestly wondering.

      • Sally says:

        I got laced weed in Amsterdam roughly 12 years ago. Had a HORRIBLE trip and didn’t touch it again for the longest time. Still don’t touch it beyond a drag from a joint like once a year, I do stupid things on weed and it doesn’t go well with my depression.

      • Ang says:

        Same here…weed has no need to be laced with anything to make it cheaper or yield more, it’s a plant. Literally more than 20 years I’ve never had laced weed either. That’s just what the boomers told us to keep us away from it lol.

      • Chris says:

        I have zero problems with people smoking weed, but yes it does happen. A classmate in high school had to be rushed to the hospital because his weed was laced with cocaine. It sounds ridiculous and is ridiculous, but it did happen. I’m sure it’s rare, it doesn’t even make sense to lace weed with a more expensive drug. Whoever did it was probably doing it nefariously. I think people are generally mixing it up with how harder drugs that are frequently laced with more dangerous and cheaper fillers. Though I can’t say it wouldn’t be safer if weed was legal and regulated, but I think most people agree with that at this point.

      • JustMe2 says:

        Someone locally overdosed from weed as it had fentanyl mixed in. Not sure if the teen knew it was laced or not but an 18 yr old died and I live on an island of about 150,000 people. So if it happened here it can happen anywhere

    • Tiffany :) says:

      In CA, she is getting it from a dispensary where it has to be sealed and branded and you get the harvest date, etc. She’s not buying it from the sketchy guy on the street corner.

  6. WhoElse says:

    I hate when people used “substances” as a catch all word for very different chemical substances. It reflects an ignorance that is a vestige of state-sanctioned stigma campaigns. Weed is as different from coke as meth is from coffee. It’s far more helpful to state what substances exactly you were “addicted” to, and to understand that addiction isn’t about drug use but about one’s behavior during drug use. If you have a coke use problem, that doesn’t mean you will automatically struggle with moderate weed use. Taking on this idea that one is “broken” and can’t control themselves without outside control and severe, wide-ranging austerity is a damaging, infantilizing idea that is a by-product of the carceral state. Most people that abuse substances aren’t doing it because there’s just something about the substances that made them lose control, they’re doing it because of unaddressed psychological stressors and a lack of a healthy social infrastructure, which are structural issues. AA and associated movements avoid focus on those structural issues and instead problematize the individual in a way that may not be as healthy as it’s made out to seem. It just creates a class of people who have no confidence in their own will and judgment without addressing the underlying clinical mental health issues that took them to a dark place. One day we’ll look back at AA the same way we’ve started to look at chemo: a blunt instrument that, while it saved lives in the short term, may have implanted something just as insidious in the process.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      Great comment. Weed is legal where I live and it is sold by the government, so it is really part of society. Nobody smokes cigarettes anymore. And alcohol (also sold by the government) is very clearly much more harmful to society. So this comment is more in line with our views than the puritanical propaganda about drugs that you tend to get from the government in the US.

      • UptownGirl says:

        I agree, alcohol is a much bigger issue than weed. We have become desensitized in regards to alcohol. Some people don’t take driving while drunk seriously enough, especially in regards to the judicial system. Someone is arrested for driving while intoxicated and gets a slap on the wrist, but someone driving while high from weed in a non friendly weed state is sent to prison for years, if not decades. Though the rest of the illicit drugs like meth and other man made substances are much more damaging to the body and society.

    • Merricat says:

      I don’t think anyone is talking about marijuana. I know of no one who has stolen and prostituted themselves over a bag of weed. I disagree with much of what you say here, but I do agree that AA needs to evolve beyond its present form.

      • Susan says:

        @merricat, interesting last sentence you wrote, has me thinking. I have a close friend who is an AA graduate and while he’s doing great, sober, healthy and I am super happy for him, some of his new thoughts/beliefs concern me slightly. I’ve never voiced this out loud, but he has turned into a super religious elitist conservative zealot. He said that the 12 steps/AA is based in Christianity (I had NO IDEA?!) and I just feel like he has traded…coke and alcohol for Jesus and judgement. I feel like I saw on a message board on here that AA is designed for privileged (white) males….which he is. Interesting.

      • Merricat says:

        Yes, addicts often trade one obsession for another, and for many of them, it’s some form of religion. I don’t know if AA is designed for privileged white males. I do think the program is not for everyone. For my family member, there was rehab after rehab after rehab, forged checks, stolen merchandise, death. That’s my experience, so it’s all I really know.

      • Lizzie Bathory says:

        AA was founded in the 1930s by two white doctors & does center the idea of a higher power, which is very much based in Christianity (though today, AA folks emphasize that the higher power can be whatever you want it to be). I once had someone describe AA as emphasizing “worm theology,” which is basically the idea that giving yourself very low self worth is a way of highlighting the perfection of the Christian god. It’s something that seems to resonate with white men, in particular. But I think it can be really damaging to women, Black people & other people of color who may already have low self worth because…we’re told to all the time?

        I don’t want to discount the many people helped by AA (the fact that it’s free & widely available is huge). But I really hope the recovery community continues to branch out from the 12 step model. It’s not for everyone.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Wow. Great comment. Thank you, @WhoElse.

    • Marie55 says:

      You make important points. In Demi’s case though, she has abused alcohol. Also addiction is a crazy beast. For some people it can be only one substance they have a problem with. For others, addiction pervades every aspect of their lives. So for instance Demi also has addiction issues with food and with relationships. For someone like her, the slippery slope of addiction is way more slippery than someone who, say, developed a dependence on their anti-anxiety medication.

    • lascivious chicken says:

      @whoelse perfectly stated and my observed experience as well

    • bouncecatt says:

      Loved this educated comment from Who else. 100000 times agree.

  7. Midge says:

    There are some celebrities who are way more famous for their messy lives than their work. I don’t know a single song by her but for over a decade I’ve been hearing about her relationships and multiple problems. I really wish we would stop talking about her.

    • Piratewench says:

      Agree. I hope Demi is well and healthy. But it seems that being famous for her drama is not good for her at all. And it ends up just being obnoxious.
      Like, Amy Winehouse was a one-in-a-million talent. And then came her addiction issue, and it was severe and heartbreaking, but she had a real reason that everyone was looking at her in the first place: her vast talent and lovable charisma. Amy would have had a career forever if she had ever gotten sober and ended the drama (and how I wish she had).
      This situation with Demi just seems like she needs to keep having drama to have the career. Her drama IS the career.

    • iconoclast59 says:

      Demi is…a lot. I find her exhausting just reading about her. She always seems to focus on her problems. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I respect her right to tell her story. But on the other hand, Demi strongly identifies with her problems, which doesn’t bode well for long-term recovery. I had a close friend whose life was similar to Demi’s, minus the fame: chaotic upbringing, early exposure to drugs, dysfunctional love life, etc. My friend never did get her life together, in large part because normalcy was so foreign to her. It felt deeply uncomfortable for her, and she always ran back to the familiarity of drugs. Demi appears to prefer the chaos in a similar fashion.

  8. Maggi says:

    After my mom died and I became estranged from my family, AA was the only place where I could find some kind of human connection. I was actively suicidal but strangers in AA were willing to accept me when I could not.
    Giving up substances and feeling my humanity return is a gift that I am grateful for every day, even though I stopped attending AA when I got my life back.
    There is no one size fits all when it comes to easing the pain that causes addiction. I wish all possible peace to Demi.

    • h-barista says:

      ++ “Giving up substances and feeling my humanity return is a gift”++

      That’s a perfect way of expressing the “aha experience” that the structured and supportive shared environment of AA can provide: re-connection with your humanity free from self-medication.

      I also agree that healthy living once you get your human connection and life back is not one size fits all.

  9. Eenie Googles says:

    My husband is 3 years sober and he smokes weed. It works perfectly well for him.
    Sobriety can look different for different people.

  10. Velvet Elvis says:

    Is it just me or has she been messing with her face? Ugh.

  11. J ferber says:

    I remember seeing her in Barney when she was little. I have so much empathy for her. I do remember her songs and she’s a powerhouse singer. I especially like Sorry (Not Sorry). She used to be besties with Selena Gomez and I hope she has really good friends around her. The best to you, my dear. Take care of yourself.

  12. Catwoman says:

    My 32 year career was in ophthalmology and I can say with 100% certainty that her blind spots will NOT disappear. Her symptoms are indicative of optic nerve damage and that never regenerates. That is why glaucoma is such an insidious disease. High intraocular pressure slowly and painlessly can leave you blind. The fact that she had hypoxia could also certainly have played a role since that also damages the optic nerve.

  13. ce says:

    I can only really speak to my own ED recovery, but i’ve been ‘in recovery’ for about 20 years give or take, and in that time a relapse happens, but a big part of recovery is not slipping back into active addiction, which takes a lot, A LOT of willpower. You need to be VERY honest with yourself and if you see something slipping back into a habit, you need to be able to call yourself out. I also speak openly to basically everyone about my experience which I’ve found makes me a bit more self-aware. But I think if I were to call myself a drug addict, having the occasional drink or smoke pot might, I dunno, trigger a spiral. Just my opinion

    • Aitana says:

      @CE, totally agree with what U sd. Demi hasn’t been sober long enuf to make such a decision. I went to AA 4 many years bcz I was a bad case. I cud become addicted to almost anything & it took yrs of deprogramming. N AA they say @ 5 yrs sober your head is just coming out of your a$$. I definitely found that to be true. Sorry & not sorry, but she hasn’t been sober long enuf. Even @ the time I have now, which is way more than double what she has, I cudn’t imagine making such a stupid decision. I don’t attend AA anymore, but am humble enuf to say, which I’ve always sd all along since I stopped my attendance, is that if there comes a time where I’m feeling weak, feeling like a drink or some other substance cud “help me,” I will NOT HESITATE to get my a$$ back N AA.

  14. Veronica S. says:

    Careful, Demi. A lot of backslides occur because you think you’ve gotten over it. The most honest approach toward addiction is that the addiction never disappears. You’re just on different levels of thrall to it.

    I have a feeling she’s coming out as lesbian soon. Good for her if this experience has made her realize a few things and what she needs to be happy.

  15. Casper says:

    I’ve never understood the idea that things like alcohol and weed are off limits once you overcome addiction. The idea that all stimulants are ‘bad’ is untrue and also erroneous. The issue at the heart of addiction is psychological . Once the person understands the reasons behind their addictions, and do the work involved to break these habits, it really is possible to have a different relationship to substances. (I’m not talking about chemical drugs because they are just bad for your brain full stop, there is no ‘lifestyle’ amount that will work). Before I met my now ex, he had been a serious drug addict and alcoholic for years, at pretty much Demi levels of usage). When we met he had already gone through 10 years of AA and a lot of counselling. And yes, we would share an occasional joint, or have a glass of wine with dinner. It was different to his previous life because back then, he was abusing everything because he was abusing himself. He was no longer in the thrall of addiction, or dependent on anything, or so nihilistic that he needed to destroy himself. It is possible that you can be one person, and then another. It takes a massive amount of understanding and introspection though. And changing a lot of neural pathways that develop through addiction.

  16. Ghostbuster says:

    Every single recovering addict has a different experience with substances – some cut it out fully, while others don’t (and miles of grey in between). There is not, and arguably never will be, a singular cause of addiction – trauma, hereditary predisposition and chemical dependence are just a few of the countless factors that contribute to it. As such, each addict requires a set of tools specific to their needs. Deep psychological investigation into one’s substance abuse is certainly a helpful tool, but is by no means the one-size-fits-all answer. Anyone who has had to personally navigate substance abuse – who has had to wrench themselves from the cold stiff stranglehold of addiction knows this. Your assertions about the very nature of addiction (let alone how best to approach it) are deeply misinformed if not harmful. Having had a partner who experienced addiction at some point in their life does not make you an expert.

    • Casper says:

      First of all – I never once said that I was an expert. Is anyone here actually qualified to speak about a celebrity that literally none of us know personally? In which case, I’m not sure why you are specifically calling out my comment. Second, please do not patronise my experience – I am personally referencing a 20 year addiction.

  17. Nibbi says:

    I think she’s really brave to be open about her sight and hearing damage following the OD. I hope it helps other people be real about the risks of addiction. I wish her all the best.

  18. I’m SO SO sick as these things being labeled as documentary as they ARE NOT. Sorry for ranting but I know people who were asked to work on Demi’s project, and I am very familiar with all the details on similar ones being made right now and others that have been made and they are NOT documentaries, they are glorified commercials. She has full control over what is in it, there is no editorial remove. It’s fine, call it a biopic, or come up with another word, but its definitely not a documentary .

  19. Amando says:

    An addict cannot moderate. She’s playing with fire, but until she wants to get sober and stay sober, there’s nothing anyone can do.

  20. Julia K says:

    Go to you tube and listen to her cover Purple Rain. Chills. Underrated and so talented.

  21. HME says:

    Oh man…I knew something was up just from the look on her face in the trailer for her doc when she was asked if she was 100% sober now. That she almost f-cking died from a drug overdose that has left her with permanent brain damage but she still wants to be able to “have a drink” and “smoke a little weed” is heartbreaking. I hope I’m wrong. I really, really hope I’m wrong but Demi doesn’t strike me as someone who will be able to have a drink or smoke a little weed every once and a while and not have it get out of control again. I’d be willing to bet that the downward spiral that lead to her ODing started with thinking “I can have just one drink”. She has an addictive personality, she even got addicted to working out FFS. The fact that her team are worried is… worrying. Again I really hope I’m wrong but man I do not have a good feeling about this.

  22. eliza says:

    I’ve been sober and in recovery for an eating disorder for almost 13 years. I did AA really hard for about 10 years and loved it, but I also live in a very liberal city in California which can influence the way AA feels. AA feels different in different parts of the country (or the world), more or less christian, more or less absolutist. I feel like one of the biggest problems with AA is that it’s such a catch all for everybody who winds up in trouble over substances. For the hard core addict (like myself) it’s great b/c it says that TRUTH that if you use, you’ll destroy your life. But for a lot of people who might be heavy users or just going through a hard patch, abstinence might not be the right choice.