Overdose outrage

Demi Lovato's overdose highlights double standard for drug users

By on August 28, 2018

Famous pop singer Demi Lovato has been open about her struggles with mental health and drug abuse since the beginning of her career. After being cast as a lead role in the kids’ movie “Camp Rock,” Lovato’s career took off when she was just 14-years-old. 

Although Lovato appeared to be living every child’s dream, the star eventually opened up about her struggles with mental health and drug abuse. On July 24, Lovato overdosed and was hospitalized after staying sober for over six years. Upon confirmation of the overdose, social media was flooded with well wishes for the singer and the hashtag “PrayForDemi” started to trend. However, not everyone using #PrayForDemi was showing the same amount of support for the singer. 

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Twitter users were not mad at the star for her overdose, but at her fans for the overwhelming amount of support. Many Twitter users expressed that those tweeting about love and support for Lovato would not or have not supported a ‘regular’ person for the same struggles. While a large majority of citizens who struggle with drug addiction are looked down upon and referred to as “junkies”, Lovato received prayers from millions of fans. For those battling an addiction of their own it seemed unfair that Lovato received so much support while they were struggling alone. 

“Hey, that guy that overdosed up the street from you is a junkie and shameful right?” Twitter user Travis Hamilton tweeted. “But we got #PrayForDemiLovato and are super sad and want to begin awareness.”

Thousands of people expressed that she only received so much support because of her fame and not her addiction. 

If the stigma of drug addiction dissolved for the average addict in the same way that it did for Lovato, there would likely be a lower percentage of people struggling with addiction in the world. 

In previous months, Hamden alone has seen a rise in drug abuse. The mayor of Hamden has reached out to Quinnipiac on multiple occasions to warn the university of the rise in drug abuse. The most recent announcement by Mayor Curt Balzano Leng was issued on Aug. 15.

“The Office of Emergency Medical Services has issued a “Situational Awareness Advisory” notice to all EMS organizations in Connecticut,” Leng said. “The OEMS has received reports this morning of multiple drug overdose victims in the City of New Haven.”

Substance abuse goes far beyond the town of Hamden, however. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) help line received 68,683 calls per month in the first quarter of 2018. The calls have increased by over 1,000 callers per month since 2017. According to the Addiction Centers of America, one in 10 Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to Addiction Centers of America. 

Between 1970 and 2015, at least 220 celebrities have died from drug related incident according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

Most recently, Hollywood saw the loss of Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Philip Seymour and Cory Monteith, among others. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were over 72,000 drug overdoses that led to death in 2017 in America alone. While the overdose death of famous stars is national news, celebrity overdose deaths, while frequent, only make up 0.3 percent of overdose deaths.

While some social media users who showed support for Lovato may have been displaying a double standard, Lovato has kept her story real and public in hopes of eliminating the double standard and getting help for all addicts. In 2017, Lovato released her documentary “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated,” which follows her health and addiction from her rapid rise to fame to the present. In the interview, Lovato is brutally honest about her path to recovery, showing that battling an addiction is a long and painful journey. 

In the first minute of her documentary, the star says, “The last time I did an interview this long I was on cocaine.”

Prior to her overdose, Lovato released the song “Sober” in June. The song shows the world the pain that Lovato, and all other addicts, go through when they have relapsed. The lyrics of the hit song paint the image of the heart ache and pain that addicts feel when they can no longer remain clean. 

“It’s only when I’m lonely sometimes I just wanna cave and I don’t wanna fight,” Lovato says in song. “I try and I try and I try and I try and I try. Just hold me, I’m lonely. Wake me when the shakes are gone and the cold sweats disappear, call me when it’s over and myself has reappeared.”

Lovato is awake and remained in the hospital for two weeks following the overdose. On Aug. 3, Lovato willingly checked herself into rehab after her release from the hospital. 

Whether Lovato’s fans would have shown the same support for a non-famous human relapsing, one thing is certain, Lovato is on a mission to end the stigma of drug users. 

With 7.7 million people battling a drug addiction in America, no one is alone. If you are struggling with addiction, call the national help line at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

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