Fans were shocked on Tuesday when reports surfaced that Demi Lovato had been taken to hospital following an apparent drug overdose.
Celebrity news site TMZ broke the story that first responders found the star unconscious after arriving to her Hollywood Hills home. After Narcan was administered, law enforcement confirmed they transported the 25-year-old singer to a Los Angeles hospital where she was deemed “stable.”
A spokesperson for Lovato issued a statement following the incident that “Demi is awake and with her family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love prayers and support. Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy.”
Last month, Lovato confirmed that she had relapsed after six years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol. The star had been candid with fans about her struggles with mental health, alcohol, cocaine and opioid addiction.
Narcan, the drug administered to Lovato on site, is a nasal spray used to counter the effects of opioids in an emergency setting.
Opioids are highly addictive substances that can be taken orally, nasally, injected into the bloodstream or smoked.
Despite previous reports, a source close to the star has denied that Lovato suffered a heroin overdose. Although heroin is part of the opioid family, Lovato has been open about her previous addiction to prescription medication, specifically Oxycodone.
Prescription painkillers, heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are all part of the increasing opioid crisis in North America that kills an average of 115 people in the United States each day.
Opioid abuse increased in the 1990s as more doctors began prescribing them to patients at a higher rate. People often develop a high tolerance to opioid effects, prompting them to increase their usage, signalling a physical dependance on the drug.
Although physical dependance isn’t enough to diagnose an addiction (there’s a behavioural component for that), there is a correlation between abusing prescription pills and heroin usage.
According to statistics, more than 80 per cent of heroin users began by abusing prescription opioids. Many people reportedly transition to heroin because it’s cheaper, and easier to acquire than prescription opioids.
Despite relapse statistics being highest in a person’s first year of sobriety, emotional and environmental triggers at any time can all culminate in a person turning to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Lovato’s relapse is an all too real reminder that despite having long-term sobriety, addiction is a life long-term illness that has to be constantly managed and treated.
Addicts with long term sobriety are at an increased risk of overdose. Relapsing after periods of sobriety is particularly common, as many addicts return to using the same quantities of drugs prior to getting clean. The body’s lack of tolerance is overwhelmed by the high dosage, causing the respiratory system to shut down, and cardiac activity to decrease quickly.
For Lovato and others living with addiction the risk of relapse may never disappear. However, while the risk of relapse may never disappear, it is essential for addicts to return to treatment and begin developing a new plan towards recovery.