In the four-part YouTube docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil, chart-topping singer and actress Demi Lovato bares all. The series, the last episode of which dropped April 6, covers everything from her struggles with her mental health, alcohol and drug use, to her sexual assault, eating disorder, and a career that started when she was just a kid. To call it brave is a vast understatement.
Below, 8 key moments that detail the stars traumatic past, and her road to recovery.
Beauty Pageant Fallout (Episode 1: ‘Losing Control’)
From an early age, Lovato was put in beauty pageants, and she says they were the root cause of an eating disorder. Extremely competitive, they’re “all about your looks and talent,” she says, and “her self-esteem was completely damaged.” Demi admits to having made a pact with herself at one particular event that if she “didn’t win the pageant [she would] never eat again.”
After her pageant days, the pressures snowballed when she was thrown into an acting career beginning with Barney, and continuing on with Disney’s Camp Rock and Sonny with a Chance.
The Overdose (Episode 1: ‘Losing Control’)
In the docuseries, Lovato addresses her 2018 overdose. It was at a photo shoot three months prior, she reveals, that she thought, “I don’t even know why I’m sober anymore.” That night, she ended up at a party and ran into her old drug dealer, and went on what she calls “a shopping spree.” She tried meth for the first time and mixed it with molly, coke, weed, and alcohol. She began using crack cocaine recreationally. Fast forward to the night she met up with friends, went to a few bars, and ended up back at her house where she invited over one of her dealers over, ultimately leading to the overdose.
‘Lucky to Be Alive’ (Episode 2: ‘5 Minutes From Death’)
We learn that Jordan Jackson, Lovato’s assistant, arrived at the star’s house the morning of the overdose to bring her to a doctor’s appointment. After knocking several times with no answer, she went into Lovato’s room and found her passed out and seemingly drunk. After nudging her, she realized she needed to call 911. When the first responders arrived, Jackson recalls Lovato had turned blue.
Lovato says she’s “lucky to be alive” and that doctors had told her that if she’d been found even five to 10 minutes later, she “wouldn’t be here today.”
Legally Blind (Episode 2: ‘5 Minutes From Death’)
The docuseries also reveals that Lovato suffered a heart attack, multiple organ failure, three strokes, and brain damage following the overdose. Due to the brain damage (a result of the strokes), Lovato woke up legally blind, which lasted for two months. She still cannot drive and has blind spots in her vision. When she tries to pour a glass of water, she says, she “totally misses the cup.”
Friends Receive Death Threats (Episode 3: ‘Reclaiming Power’)
After news broke about the overdose, recalls Lovato’s best friend and hip-hop artist Sirah (below), she began receiving death threats from Lovato fans due to images circulating of her being with the pop star during tough periods of her life. Another good friend, backup dancer Dani Vitale, received thousands of messages per day on social media from Lovato fans telling her to “die” and “kill herself” due to reports they’d been partying together the night before the overdose.
Sexual Assault (Episode 3: ‘Reclaiming Power’)
Lovato also shares another trauma: She was sexually assaulted and “lost her virginity to rape” as a teenager. (She was also sexually assaulted the night of the overdose by her drug dealer.) At the time, she was working at Disney and she had hooked up with an unnamed cast member. She reveals that she told him she was a virgin and didn’t want to take it further, and he proceeded to rape her.
She told someone about the rape, but the attacker was never punished; he wasn’t even removed from movie they were in. This led to the worsening of her eating disorder, and her bulimia got so bad that she was “throwing up blood for the first time,” Lovato says.
Sobriety (Episode 4: ‘Rebirthing’)
Guests Christina Aguilera, Elton John, and Will Ferrell join Lovato in the final episode, where she explains what sobriety now means to her. Her friends say that 2020 was the best year of Lovato’s life. Sirah notes that Lovato “grew so much,” now meditates, and does little things for herself that make a big impact, such as stretching before bed.
Lovato says that she’s now “smoking weed and drinking in moderation,” and some friends and family express reservations about it. Elton explains that “moderation doesn’t work. If you drink you’re going to drink more, if you take a pill you’re going to take another one.”
Lovato emphasizes that her definition of sobriety might not be the same as it is for others.
Eating Disorder Under Control (Episode 4: ‘Rebirthing’)
Lovato explains that she was “unable to find recovery in her eating disorder until she found balance” in her food and exercise. The eating disorder “no longer rules her life,” she says, and she no longer feels like she’s “in prison.” For eight years, Lovato had received watermelon cakes on her birthday to try “to keep her weight down,” but on a trip to Palm Springs in 2020, she ate whatever she wanted, and had three different birthday cakes — an incredible milestone in her road to recovery.
Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil, YouTube