Millions were shocked in July 2018 when it was revealed that singer Demi Lovato had been rushed to hospital after a heroin overdose just two days after the finale of her sell-out world tour.
While it’s always been made clear that Demi survived against all odds, little else is known about the harrowing events leading up to that fateful evening. Demi has always told fans that when she is ready to explain, she will – this week, she makes good on her promise in a brand new documentary, Dancing With The Devil.
This three-part docu-series premiered for the first time as the headline title at SXSW Festival on March 16th, receiving critical acclaim and building plenty of anticipation amongst fans before the first two parts of the series were released via Demi’s YouTube channel on March 23rd.
To say that the film is honest is an understatement. Previous documentaries starring the singer have held back somewhat when it comes to the more troubling details of Demi’s personal life – including the unreleased film made during the ill-fated Tell Me You Love Me Tour of 2018. Dancing With The Devil, however, is Demi at her most raw and vulnerable, opening up about issues that have followed her since long before she had even made her Disney debut.
The stories that she tells, struggles she has faced and experiences that she has had throughout her life make it clear that her overdose was the result of the pressure-cooker environment she had come to find herself placed in, along with years of unresolved pain. The film even features never-before-seen footage from the aforementioned Tell Me You Love Me documentary, which highlights just how difficult her environment had become.
In one scene featuring the 2018 footage, Demi explains how an entire team of professionals had been brought on board to ensure that she was able to complete the tour without the risk of relapsing when it came to her eating disorder or addictions. She was put under the care of a dietician, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a wellness coach and a therapist – among others – and was strictly prohibited from spending time around anyone who was not sober at all times. She speaks openly for the first time during this film about how she was made to feel that she no longer had control of anything within her whole life.
Demi recounts how it was during the tour that she realised that she was so miserable that she was no longer sure why she continued with sobriety, triggering the series of events leading up to her boiling point just weeks later.
While it was no secret that Demi had struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol throughout her career, she had been clean of both and had remained sober since checking into rehab aged just eighteen – she even celebrated the six-year landmark of her sobriety during her 2018 tour. However, overwhelmed by the constant control of her team, Demi told friends that she was planning to try and ease herself back into drinking in moderation – a decision which her friends, when interviewed in the film, described as ‘a red flag’.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before she turned to drugs once again – but not just to the combination of Xanax and cocaine that had sent her to rehab in 2012. She began using meth, heroin and crack cocaine, too.
One particularly striking aspect of the film is the complete contradiction between the Tell Me You Love Me footage and the story being told by Demi herself, which highlights just how well Demi had learnt to hide her ongoing addictions from not just the media, her fans and her team, but from her closest circle of family and friends, too. One difficult moment in the first episode sees Demi’s best friend Sirah address the night that she caught Demi using heroin for the first time, an event that she describes as leaving her ‘horrified and devastated’.
The discussion surrounding her overdose is, in itself, disturbing. Demi describes how she had spent the evening at a friend’s birthday party and had invited some of the group back to her home, where all her friends felt that she was absolutely fine. As they left, they assumed that she would simply go to bed – she had plans for the morning after. Instead, she quickly got in touch with her drug dealer, who supplied her the drugs that would leave her clinging to life the next morning.
The second episode retells the events that unfolded after her assistant discovered her unresponsive the morning after, filling in the blanks left by speculative news reports and gossip columns over the last couple of years. There are also some more surprising details, such as how Demi’s staff asked paramedics not to arrive at the home with sirens blaring, as it would draw too much attention.
These are just a few of the highlights of an ongoing series that packs an incredibly powerful punch, whether you’re a fan of Demi Lovato or have never heard of her. Addiction and mental health issues, as well as the triggers that often lead to them, are very rarely discussed so openly, especially by those in the public eye – Dancing With The Devil isn’t just effective in exploring Demi’s problems but the causes of these problems in others, too. There’s also repeated contact details to organisations who can help those going through similar problems, urging others who suffer with drug addiction to seek help before it’s too late.
While the first two episodes of the series explored the events leading up to and immediately following her heroin overdose, the third episode, available to watch from March 30th, seems to hint to a hopefully more positive future for Demi Lovato – hopefully now clean of her addictions and in a much better place.
Dancing With The Devil episodes 1 & 2 are now available to view on Demi Lovato’s official YouTube channel.