Demi Lovato Says Trying to Recover from Her Eating Disorder 'Led to' Her Drug Overdose

Julie Mazziotta

Demi Lovato says that trying to recover from her longtime eating disorder was extremely tough on her mental health and was one of the triggering factors in her drug overdose.

Speaking with Ashley Graham on the model’s Pretty Big Deal podcast, Lovato, 27, said that she’s trying to take a new approach to her career after “running myself into the ground with workouts and extreme dieting.”

Lovato explained that she had “thought the past few years was recovery from an eating disorder, when it actually was just completely falling into it.”

The difference, she said, was that while her eating disorder symptoms were more visible in the past when she would binge and purge her food, “they weren’t as obvious” when she said she was in recovery — they just took on a different form in over exercising.

“When you don’t have people that know the signs around you … like, what I think I really needed was someone to come in and saying like, ‘Hey, I think you need to look into how much you’re working out,’ like, maybe three times a day is excessive for working out,” Lovato said. “Like, there were days when I lived at the gym, and I would take business meetings at the gym on my breaks from my workouts. And I’d be gross, but at least I didn’t have to leave and shower and I could go right back into my workout. I’d eat a meal, go workout, eat a meal, go workout. And it’s like, that’s just not happiness to me, that’s not freedom.”

Lovato said that she was still being pushed to maintain a certain body type, and that led to her overdose in July 2018.

“When you have certain people around you that are telling you certain things, that you should look a certain way, it makes it harder. So I was in that situation — I was just running myself into the ground, and I honestly think that’s kind of what led to everything happening over the past year,” she said. “It was just me thinking I found recovery when I didn’t and then living this kind of lie, and trying to tell the world that I was happy with myself when I really wasn’t.”

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Lovato said that her mindset has changed, and she plans to make her career more body positive going forward.

“I made a choice going into this next album, okay when I present this, I’m not going to worry about what I look like. I’m not going to worry about trying to look a certain way or fit a certain mold or whatever, that’s just not who I am,” she said. “Someone needs to stand up for people who don’t naturally look that way. Like I had to work my ass off every day at the gym six days a week to maintain that figure, and it’s just like, that led me only one way, and I don’t want to go down that path again. So I’m not willing to destroy my mental health to look a certain way anymore.”

If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.