By this time, you've probably already heard the news: Due to an alleged heroin overdose, Demi Lovato was found unresponsive on her home on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018. Her fans, though heartbroken, offered up their prayers and unwavering support to the artist. She's now awake but still hospitalized. Articles about her bravery and the struggles she's faced have flooded the internet ever since. They're right. Demi Lovato is brave.
Demi was bullied so much throughout her young school years, that she chose to graduate via the homeschool route. After she burst into stardom, the artist entered rehab for the first time at the age of 18 for bipolar disorder, bulimia, self-harming, and addiction. Unfortunately, she relapsed shortly afterward and went to a sober living facility for a year. She remained sober for six years (as of March 2018) after leaving the facility, which is an amazing feat.
"OK. People care about Demi's relapse. So what?"
Well, here's the kicker: Someone I love is an addict.
She's not famous. She's not a singer with millions of fans worldwide. No one is tweeting her condolences. No one is calling her brave for her sobriety. She's just a regular person just like you and me. What's the difference? Why is a celebrity relapsing any different than your uncle relapsing? Or your aunt? Or your cousin? Or anyone?
Why is addiction a disease when it's a celebrity, but it's a choice when it comes to everyone else?
If you've been active on any type of social media recently, you know this is a hot topic to argue about in Facebook comments. According to the Center on Addiction, addiction can be defined as "a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances". Some people suffer from addiction due to having the addiction passed on to them by their mothers who used the substances during their pregnancy while others have used the substances themselves. Regarding the latter, though it may have been the person's choice to use the substance, the addiction is still considered a disease and it should be treated as such.
21.5 million American adults per year are abusing substances. That's including celebrities and regular people. These numbers won't decrease without a little bit of compassion. It's hard to want to fix yourself when no one believes in you. Everyone deserves support.
If you or someone you know is abusing substances and in need of help, contact the Substance Abuse Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.