Why Demi Lovato's new confessional song proves that recovering from addiction is harder than you think

Demi Lovato pictured at Wembley Stadium in London.
Demi Lovato pictured at Wembley Stadium in London.

Last week singer Demi Lovato released a haunting new song called Sober which many people believe is a confessional song about her relapsing while on her road to recovering from alcohol addiction. 

According to Teen Vogue, the singer has always been candid about her struggle with alcohol, drugs and bipolar mood disorder and her documentary, Simply Complicated, reveals just how open she is with her struggle and how willing she is to keep fighting the good fight even though it’s hard.

Many of her fans have come out in support of her, showering her with love and affection through messages on Instagram and on Twitter.

In a world where most celebrities prefer a modicum of privacy, fans not only love Demi because she’s a gifted artist, but they adore her because she’s never been shy to show her fans the best and the worst of her.

It takes a lot to be vulnerable in front of a world that would much rather (and gleefully) dole out condemnation than show compassion and support, so the fact that she consistently puts herself out there is testimony to how willing she is to share her journey with her fans.

The heart-breaking lyrics of Sober include an apology to friends, family and fans alike. She sings about wanting to be the perfect role model, but knowing that she won’t always get it right because she’s not perfect.

She’s not only vulnerable, but she’s shown just how important it is to open up about issues that we don’t acknowledge and talk about enough – alcohol addiction and the road to recovery.

The truth is that Demi isn’t the first one to battle this problem, nor has she been the first to speak up about it, but while many celebrities have shared their experiences of overcoming their battle, many don’t find it easy to reveal that sometimes the road to recovery, paved with good intentions, often takes many detours.

Local celebrity Kelly Khumalo in a documentary with MTV Base also opened up about her history with drug abuse, revealing, according to Channel24, that she’d even to go church while she was high

Popular comedian Nina Hastie herself also shared her heart-breaking story in an interview with Pearl Modiadie earlier this year. Channel24 reports that Nina shared the story of how she was raped three times and how she became dependent on drugs and alcohol. 

Many folk on social media encourage Nina to keep sharing her story and showed an overwhelming amount of support.

Society often focuses on glorifying alcohol as the ultimate party enhancer, and while many people enjoy several glasses of wine, or a cocktail or three (and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you know your limits and are safe about consuming alcohol), we don’t talk about people who don’t know how to stop.

It’s like they’re a dirty secret that we’re scared to deal with because we don’t want to recognise that something that makes us feel good and lose our inhibitions can make someone feel so bad.

We don’t want to acknowledge that the co-worker who can stay sober throughout a week but get drunk to the point of incapacity  every weekend might be heading beyond the direction of being a functional alcoholic to straight up treading into complete dependence and addiction territory. 

And mostly, it’s a lot more comfortable to see people talking about how they’ve overcome their addiction, instead of acknowledging that like many drug addicts, alcohol can so easily draw you back into its addictive web again.

Demi acknowledge earlier this year that she was celebrating 6 years of sobriety. But she revealed to us that sometimes the period of having fought for freedom from the addiction can be derailed at any time.

And that’s not something to be ashamed of, because, as Teen Vogue so aptly points out, addiction isn’t a character flaw, it’s a disorder and illness and should be treated as such.

READ MORE: Tracee Ellis Ross wants you to stop letting people get away with using your body without consent

Sandra de Villiers, manager for Stepaway, an alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation centre explains that there are many different reasons that people often relapse and that it shouldn’t be seen as a failure, in a feature article about relapsing.

She adds that there are a number of factors that contribute to relapsing, some triggers including stressful and emotional situations at home or work, social pressure and contact with groups where drinking formed a big part of social interactions.

The point is that there are often reasons for setbacks – the important thing is acknowledging it. Demi not only showed through her music that revealing this information has lifted a weight off her shoulder, but that Sober is a chance to start anew. 

Are you struggling with a substance abuse problem and want to get help?
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has a 24-hour helpline that you can reach out to:

Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline

Contact: 0800 12 13 14
SMS:  32312

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