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Demi Lovato on life after surviving overdose

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Three years after a near-fatal drug overdose, singer Demi Lovato opens up to correspondent Tracy Smith about how she barely survived. She talks about her new YouTube documentary series, "Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil," and how she is now feeling more joy in her life than ever before.

Video Transcript

- Singer Demi Lovato has had her successes on the charts, but they masked a deep unhappiness that almost claimed her life. Recovery has been a long, hard struggle, as she tells our Tracy Smith.

TRACY SMITH: When we last met up with mega pop star Demi Lovato back in 2016, it looked like she had it all together. You look like a fighter to me.

DEMI LOVATO: Thanks. Thanks. I look like a sweaty pop star right now. That's what I look like.


TRACY SMITH: She apparently had a handle on the eating disorder and substance abuse that had plagued her for years. And with a healthy new lifestyle, she said she was better than ever.

DEMI LOVATO: The most successful thing that I've done has been able to beat my addiction and that I'm sitting alive in front of you today.

TRACY SMITH: But that was then.

- Singer and actress Demi Lovato was reportedly rushed to a Los Angeles hospital today after being treated for a drug overdose.

TRACY SMITH: In July 2018, word came that she'd overdosed on heroin laced with fentanyl and had just barely survived. Do you have, like, any mantra or anything that you say?

DEMI LOVATO: No mantras.

TRACY SMITH: In so many ways, the Demi we met in 2016 was a completely different person from the one we sat down with at her Los Angeles home last week. I'm not sure that people even realize how very serious this was and how it still affects you. How close did you come to dying?

DEMI LOVATO: The doctors told me that I had five to 10 minutes. And before-- like, if no one had found me, then I wouldn't be here. And I'm grateful that I'm sitting here today, yeah.


DEMI LOVATO: Thank you.

TRACY SMITH: I've got to tell you, I mean, we had a similar conversation in 2016. What happened?

DEMI LOVATO: Like, I was probably 24 when we did the interview. So we're doing this interview. I'm in recovery from a bunch of things. And I have been sober for however many years, but I'm still miserable. And then, of course, no matter how you're feeling in that moment, you're wanting to say, like, yes, I'm good. Because I'm in front of a camera I'm doing an interview. It's like, I, for the first time in my life, had to essentially die to wake up.

TRACY SMITH: It seems that behind the smiles and the apparent glow of success, Demi Lovato was profoundly unhappy.

DEMI LOVATO: Any time that you suppress a part of yourself, it's going to overflow.

TRACY SMITH: She talks about it all, and then some, in a new YouTube Originals documentary out this week. It paints a picture of a beloved pop star who, in the time leading up to her overdose, was living more or less like a prisoner. How much of your life did you control?

DEMI LOVATO: I didn't control any of my life at that period of time. But yes, I also needed to grow up and take control. And that's something I haven't done until the past two years of my life. Which is, I'm now in control of my finances. I'm now in control of the food that I eat. How often I work out.

TRACY SMITH: And stop for just a second, because I think this will be baffling to people that you weren't even in control of the food that you ate.

DEMI LOVATO: Obviously, I was in control of what I put in my mouth. But there were times where phones were taken out of-- actually, every time I was in a hotel room, my phone was taken out of the room so I couldn't order room service. Regardless of what other people may have said or done, my actions put me in the seat that's in front of you today. Unfortunately, nobody can answer for my overdose but me.


Flipping through all of these magazines. Telling me who I'm supposed to be. Way too good at camouflage.

TRACY SMITH: Since her OD, Demi Lovato has found a way forward that, while controversial, she says works for her. So you're doing what they call moderation, I guess? Right? So you're drinking, smoking a little bit of weed. Is that fair to say?

DEMI LOVATO: Yeah. I think the term that I best identify with is California sober. I really don't feel comfortable explaining the parameters of my recovery to people, because I don't want anyone to look at my parameters of safety and think that's what works for them. Because it might not.

I am cautious to say that just like I feel the complete abstinent method isn't, like, a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody, I don't think that this journey of moderation is a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody too.

TRACY SMITH: She says she still suffers from lingering problems with her vision and hearing. But Demi also discovered that her singing voice was as strong as ever. And she chose last year's Grammy Awards to prove that to the world, and maybe herself.


DEMI LOVATO: I tried to talk to my piano.

TRACY SMITH: But a few seconds in, her emotions got the better of her. You started to sing, and then you stopped. And I'm wondering what was going through your head.

DEMI LOVATO: I didn't know if I'd ever step foot on a stage again. When I woke up in the hospital, I was like, I don't know the full extent of the damage that's been done. I hadn't tried singing yet.

TRACY SMITH: And then, she started again.


In what would become one of the most triumphant performances of the year.


DEMI LOVATO: I tried to talk to my piano. I tried to talk to my guitar.

TRACY SMITH: This song, "Anyone", is the first track on her upcoming album.


DEMI LOVATO: Please send me anyone. Lord, is there anyone?

TRACY SMITH: It could also be the soundtrack of a time in her life that she's both grateful for and hoping to leave behind for good.


DEMI LOVATO: Nobody's listening to me. Nobody's listening.


TRACY SMITH: To you personally, how are you feeling at this moment?

DEMI LOVATO: I feel so good. I feel more joy in my life than I've ever felt, because I'm not quieting or diminishing any part of myself. I think that my whole life, I was the horse that everyone was leading to the well. And they couldn't make me drink the water from the well. It wasn't until this past year that I was able to taste the freedom of the water in the well, because I finally was ready to drink it.