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If you can relate to Demi Lovato’s relapse

If you can relate to Demi Lovato’s relapse

Demi Lovato drug relapse

Photo Credit Flickr @jus10h

Most of us met Demi Lovato as the fresh-faced female star of Disney’s Camp Rock and then Sonny with a Chance. She was in her early teens at that time with a bright future ahead of her. In her memoir, she admits to experimenting with cocaine for the first time when she was 17 and from there, her life spiraled out of control. She entered rehab for the first time at 18 but relapsed shortly afterward. She committed to rehab a second time and celebrated 6 years of sobriety in March of this year.

In June, Demi Lovato released a single Sober, which indicated she had relapsed and then overdosed in July. She talked openly about her relapse on Instagram in a post that has since been removed.

Addiction and Mental Illness

Drug addiction and relapse after years of sobriety aren’t limited to the rich and famous. In 2014, 21.5 American adults suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Eight million Americans suffered from a combination of mental health disorders and substance abuse. Lovato includes herself in those numbers and has openly discussed her bipolar disorder and eating disorders. Addiction recovery isn’t just about clearing the drugs from a person’s system. It’s about treating the whole person, including underlying mental illnesses.

Drugs, especially opioids, change the way an addicted person’s brain functions. Their ability to control cravings and other behaviors remained unstable even after completing a recovery program. Statistics show 85% of people who complete recovery will relapse within the first year.

Recovery, like treatment for other chronic illnesses, requires a lifestyle change. And like other chronic illnesses, lifestyle changes are hard to implement, but it doesn’t mean a person with an opioid or other drug addiction should stop trying. Instead, relapse should be viewed as part of the process of recovery not a failure of the person or the treatment.

Relapse may be the most dangerous time in the recovery process. If an addicted person resumes taking drugs at the same dosage they used prior to recovery, they are more likely to overdose because their body isn’t as immune to the effects of the drug as before. It’s important for friends and family members of a recovering person to watch for signs of a potential relapse and to encourage the person not to give up but to seek help from their doctor or therapist.

Signs of an impending relapse may include:

  • Isolation
  • Denial
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Not taking care of oneself
  • Skipping treatments or support meetings
  • Lying
  • Thinking about past drug use
  • Drug cravings
  • Reconnecting with people and places associated with past drug use

If you or someone you know has experienced a relapse, do not label yourself or your loved one as a failure. Instead, find the support you need through your medical provider, past treatment centers or a mental health professional. If you need someone to walk you through the recovery process for the first time or not the first time, reach out to our behavioral health team at 662-282-4359 for an appointment.


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