Excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter 7-27-2018
Recovery advocate and author Ryan Hampton says the star’s hospitalization “shows we need to flip the script and encourage recovery” in an industry that “often protects and sometimes encourages” substance abuse and addiction.
On Tuesday, when I saw the headlines that Demi Lovato had been hospitalized for a drug overdose, my heart dropped. This can’t be happening. Demi, an outspoken advocate for recovery and a beautiful, passionate face of the mental health empowerment movement, was struggling. Hollywood’s culture often protects and even sometimes encourages substance use and addiction. Demi’s relapse shows that we need to flip the script and encourage recovery instead.
Hiding her addiction has never been Demi’s style. When I first met her in 2013, I was still in active heroin addiction and lying to everyone about it. We worked together on the unite4:humanity gala, which was planned for early 2014. Demi was so open and brave about her own struggles that shortly after the event, I sought treatment for my addiction. I’ve been sober ever since.
Since entering recovery in 2014, I’ve found my own place in the recovery advocacy community, and I am so grateful for the example Demi sets as a bold voice in an industry that so often lifts up substance use as cool or glamorous.
She has brought that same message of transparency and courage to her fans, as well. She uses every opportunity to talk about her mental health struggles and her recovery from addiction. In an emotional moment at a concert in March, Demi said she was celebrating six years of recovery from substance use disorder.
“The reason why I became so open about my story is because I know that there are people here tonight that need to ask for help and I want them to know that it’s OK,” she said at the concert. “Mental health is something that we all need to talk about, and we need to take the stigma away from it. So let’s raise the awareness. Let’s let everybody know it’s OK to have a mental illness and addiction problem. I’m bipolar, whatever. I take care of myself.”