Tonight, my Twitter is topped with thoughts to Demi Lovato. My Facebook is flooded with friends posting about how much their heart breaks for her.
But yesterday, nothing. As if Demi wasn't struggling with her addiction yesterday, as if nobody overdosed yesterday.
In reality, around 115 people overdose on opioids in the United States alone every single day. In reality, Demi Lovato needed your thoughts and prayers yesterday, just as much as she did today.
So tonight, after reading of Demi's hospitalization from an apparent drug overdose, I scanned through the comments. It was filled with lots of thoughts and prayers sent her way, lots of broken hearts, and lots of people saying that we should care because addiction is awful. Lots of truth, sympathy, and love for the addict were found in those comments.
But two posts down, I ran across an article about an actor from an old MTV show called "Wanna Be a VJ." VJ Jess Camp's mugshot filled the page of an article about him being missing, and then luckily, found. The comments in this article were drastically different.
"Probably overdosed in some gutter," one comment said. This mentality followed through the comment section, bashing him for looking like he's been on drugs for years, cracking jokes about how, "This is what drugs do to you, kids," and, as one person said, "This isn't news. He did it to himself. Who even noticed that he was missing?" The comments went on, so on and so forth about his apparent drug addiction (which I can't confirm).
The difference? No sympathy. Some thoughts and prayers were sent his ways and some happiness over him being found, but nothing compared to the love that Demi has been shown. Why? Because we don't know his name? Because he's not a celebrity? Because he's just an average guy?
Am I mad that Demi has been shown lots of love and support? Absolutely not. She needs it. We all need it. Am I mad that we're only sending thoughts and prayers to those with the glory, or even the fact that we needed a near-death experience to notice that people are struggling and need love and support? Absolutely.
You see, I've always been a fan of Demi. As a recovering addict myself, I love how open and honest she has been about addiction, sobriety, and the struggles of it all. We need that message to get out there, and I praise her for that.
About a month ago, when she openly expressed that she had relapsed, there wasn't much talk. Not once did I see someone on my timeline speak about it. She was struggling yesterday, she was struggling last week, she was struggling last month — yet the public turned a blind eye until today when the news broke that she overdosed.
DO WE REALLY NEED SOMEONE DYING (OR NEARLY DYING) FOR US TO SHOW SOME SUPPORT?
At that point, it's too late. You help as fast and as soon as you can.
But this isn't what I'm most mad about. In the Valley here, we have a big drug problem that most turn a blind eye to. Meth is abundant up here. Addicts are everywhere. In the United States, an opioid epidemic is sweeping the nation. But do I see love and support and prayers for them on the daily? No — not unless a friend of their's has died. It takes someone DYING.
What I see is mocking, I see disgust, I see people tagging their friends in mugshots saying, "Haha, what a loser. I'm not surprised." I see addicts being treated less than. I see addicts being made out to be worthless people. I see addicts being shamed. Over and over again.
Yet, when a celebrity overdoses, an outcry occurs.
Where was that when the woman in the hospital parking lot overdosed? Where was that when the addict froze to death near the river last winter? Where is that EVERY SINGLE DAY?
Where is that for the nearly 20 million Americans suffering from addiction? Where is that for nearly 115 people who overdose every single day who are being scoffed at for being "loser drug addicts?"
She's not the first addict. She won't be the last addict. And she certainly isn't the only addict that matters — that deserves love, support, encouragement, and a community rallying behind her.
Am I bashing the world for showing love to Demi? No. Am I bashing the world for praising Demi while scuffing at the addicts in their town, at their school, on their streets, in their families? Yes.
My heart goes out to Demi Lovato. My heart breaks for her. My prayers are sent her way. But they're sent to everyone else struggling too, everyone else who has lost their battle, everyone else who is hanging on by a thread, and to everyone who loves or has loved an addict.
Addiction is a disease. It takes family, friends, idols, and loved ones. It doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you've never touched a drug before then or if you have six years of sobriety under your belt, it does not care who you are, what your social status is, how much money you have — it does not care.
Sober or active, the battle is real. Recovering or using, addicts need your support and your love.
Every. Single. Day.
Every. Single. Hour.
So tonight, when you send your prayers to Demi, when you wonder to yourself, "How could this happen? I can't believe it," I ask you to think of and to pray for those who are struggling right around you. In your town, down your block, in your school, in your state, across the nation. Send prayers and love and support to those around you, those who don't have a nation to help them feel loved or worthy.
Help, stand up, fight with them.
Addiction doesn't discriminate, and neither should we.