Musician and actress Demi Lovato was hospitalized after suffering from an apparent drug overdose. First responders used the overdose reversal medication “Narcan” when they arrived, leading many to a conclusion that Demi may have overdosed on some sort of opiate. Demi has been an outspoken advocate for mental health matters and has publicly discussed her own struggles with bulimia, self-harm, drug addiction, and even her diagnosis with a bipolar disorder.
In fact, Demi Lovato hosts “wellness workshops” before every show she performs in order to have open, healthy discussions about mental health issues with fans. Her work is intended to shed light on the subject of mental illness and addiction and to offer peer support for those who feel they are struggling alone. Demi is also the spokesperson for Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, an initiative that encourages those with mental illness to speak up and change the stigma surrounding it. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 60% of people with a mental illness won’t seek treatment in a given year. Demi’s position as a public figure for mental illness and addiction has lead to her helping thousands of people seek treatment and self-help they need.
Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, about 5.7 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder often experience an emotional roller coaster that swings from the depths of depression to elation. For those that live with this illness but are not diagnosed, daily life can be painful and filled with uncertainty when it comes to their emotional stability. This leads to many people with bipolar disorder to self-medicate to balance their state of mind.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that more than half of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a history of illicit substance abuse, and 44% have a history of alcohol dependency. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are often similar to the signs of a drug addiction. Manic episodes can mimic the high that someone would experience while taking stimulants such as methamphetamine or cocaine, while the comedown would mimic the withdrawals from these drugs. If someone with an addiction has a dual diagnosis for bipolar disorder, they need to seek help from an experienced specialist for co-occurring disorders. This type of help involves more than detox and therapy and may require medication-assisted treatment.
Treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction involves tackling both problems at the same time. In some cases, medication-assisted treatment may be used to help level out the patient with substances that don’t run the risk of being abused. These medications help regulate mood shifts and bring equilibrium to a person’s life. Some of these drugs include anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines. With the help of properly managed medication and some type of continued therapy, patients suffering from bipolar disorder and addiction can restore balance and feel normal.
Demi Lovato is like any of the potentially hundreds of thousands of people living with bipolar disorder and addiction across the world. However, she is a public figure and is under intense scrutiny by the media and her fanbase, making the daily pressure much more difficult to bear. One of the hardest parts of relapsing is going through the shameful feelings and disappointment, but it’s still possible for anyone to get through it and remain sober. We hope that Demi Lovato will continue to be open and honest about her issues, using her pain as a positive force for helping others and herself to stay sober.
For greater insight into interacting with those suffering from the issues mentioned in the article or if you would like to chat with others affected, try the app, Reachout.
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a series of drug and alcohol recovery centers, and has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years now with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke, Matthew went on to work for Boston Consulting Group before he realized where his true passion lied within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and providing education on what’s an intervention.