Demi Lovato Opens Up About Battling Addiction & An Eating Disorder

Photo: BFA/REX/Shutterstock.
At age 18, Demi Lovato was afraid she wouldn't live to be 21.

In a new interview with American Way, the now-23-year-old pop star delved into her struggles with bulimia and addiction, recalling a time when her eating disorder, drugs, and alcohol almost destroyed her life.

"I lived fast and I was going to die young," Lovato told American Way. "I didn't think I would make it to 21."

Lovato first entered rehab in 2010, where she was treated for bulimia and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, she says the program wasn't enough for the issues she was struggling with at the time.

"I thought, 'I’m not in treatment for a drug and alcohol problem,'" she said. "But once I started eating again, the other issues got worse. It was like whack-a-mole."

Lovato then quit drinking, began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and checked into a West Hollywood sober house, where she remained for a year. Now in her fourth year of sobriety, she reflects on her continued recovery process, noting that many of her struggles began at an early age — both her mother and grandmother also struggled with bulimia.

"Even though I was 2 or 3 years old, being around somebody who was 80 pounds and had an active eating disorder… it’s hard not to grow up like that," she said. "Hopefully my kids won't have it, but it's kind of like addiction. It's hereditary."

(Indeed, several studies suggest that genetic factors can contribute to predisposition for eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, though environmental factors are also a cause.)

Nowadays, Lovato is using her platform to speak out about body image and mental health. "The more you talk about mental illness, the less of a taboo it becomes," she said. "As a pop star, I can say, 'Hey, I’ve got bipolar disorder — it’s nothing that anyone can be ashamed of.'"

"I didn’t go into treatment thinking, 'OK, now I’m going to be an inspiration,'" she explained. "At times, I was resentful for having that kind of responsibility, but now, it’s really become a part of my life. It holds me accountable."

She may not have set out to be inspirational, but her openness about her struggles, as well as her vocal support for mental health treatment, make her a choice role model for her fans.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.

It's your body. It's your summer. Enjoy them both. Check out more #TakeBackTheBeach here.
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