Demi Lovato’s documentary “Dancing With the Devil” released its first episode on YouTube on Tuesday, and the series is an unprecedented and unfiltered look into the former Disney star’s life, relationship with her family and battles with addiction.
In “Dancing With the Devil,” Demi opens up to the cameras with commentary provided by her mother and stepfather, sisters, choreographer, and friends, as well as the neurologist at Cedars-Sinai hospital who treated her brain injuries after her overdose. Throughout the series, these sources start a raw but compassionate dialogue about the parts of Lovato’s life that led her to her breaking point in 2018 — but also celebrate her talent, strength and resilience and her joy at getting a new lease on life.
There are plenty of details in the hour-long project to mull over, but here are five of the most shocking revelations from the series (minor spoilers ahead).
The first two episodes of “Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil” premiere for free Tuesday, March 23 at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT only on Demi Lovato’s YouTube Channel, with new episodes to be released weekly on each of the next two Tuesdays (March 30 and April 6).
Inside Demi’s near-fatal overdose in 2018
During “Dancing With the Devil,” Lovato is very candid about what happened when she overdosed on heroin in 2018. Lovato said she was given heroin that, unbeknownst to her, was also laced with the lethal opioid Fentanyl. The effects of the drugs made her overdose and go into a comatose state, which is how her assistant Jordan Jackson found her. Jackson called 911 and Lovato’s security manager, Max Lea, rushed her to the hospital. But when she woke up, the overdose had truly taken its toll.
“I don’t think people realize how bad it actually was,” Lovato says in the series. “I had three strokes, I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I was legally blind when I woke up.”
She went on to add that while at the hospital she suffered pneumonia because she asphyxiated as well as had multiple organ failure. “I’m really lucky to be alive. The doctors said if there’d been five to 10 more minutes and if my assistant hadn’t come in, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Lovato said.
Jackson told the documentary crew that when she found Lovato unconscious in her home, “there was one point where she turned blue, her whole body turned blue. I was like, ‘She’s dead for sure.’ It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Sexual assault by her drug dealer
In the documentary, Lovato revealed that her drug dealer had sexually assaulted her the night that she called him to deliver the drugs that would trigger her overdose.
“I’ve had my fair share of sexual trauma throughout childhood, teenage years,” she said. “When they found me I was naked, blue. I was literally left for dead after he took advantage of me.”
Lovato says that when she woke up in the hospital, she was asked if she’d had consensual sex. “There was one flash that I had of him on top of me. I saw that flash and I said, yes,” she said. “It actually wasn’t until maybe a month after my overdose that I realized, ‘Hey, you weren’t in any state of mind to make a consensual decision.’ That kind of trauma doesn’t go away overnight, and it doesn’t go away in the first few months of rehab, either. That sticks with you for awhile after because…. all of the ‘daddy issues’ I’d had growing up, now I was literally discarded and abandoned. I’ve realized a lot of my past traumas came to a head that night.”
Misdiagnosis as bipolar
Lovato went public with her bipolar diagnosis when she was 18 years old, and in the documentary, she’s asked about how that diagnosis affected her life. But Lovato reveals that she believes she was originally misdiagnosed, and expresses regret for allowing people to think she was an advocate for a disease that she didn’t actually have.
“I came out to the public when I thought I was bipolar because I thought it put a reasoning behind my actions,” Levato said. “But what I didn’t do was get a second opinion. You take something public, you become an advocate for it. I was acting out when I was 18 for many reasons but I know now from multiple different doctors that it’s not because I was bipolar. And I had to grow up. I had to grow the f–k up.”
Demi’s relationship with her father
Lovato and her family members dive deep into their relationship with her dad, Patrick Martin Lovato, in the documentary’s first episode. Lovato says she was “estranged” from her dad, and wrote her song “Father” about their relationship. In the documentary there’s footage of her playing “Father” to a live crowd, next to a big photo of the two of them.
“Growing up my whole life, I longed for that relationship with him,” Lovato said. “And then I resented him because he was an addict and alcoholic and was abusive to my mom.” Lovato goes on to describe the horrific way she found out of her father’s death — “We don’t actually know the exact date he died,” she said. “All we know is that by the time he was found, his body was too decomposed to have an open casket. He had been laying there about a week-and-a-half before anybody found him.”
Backup dancer and BFF Dani Vitale’s role in the overdose story
After Lovato’s overdose, her backup dancer and best friend Dani Vitale ended up on the receiving end of anger from Lovato’s fans, who lashed out at her and blamed her for what had happened. As Vitale tells it, she had partied with Lovato the night before her overdose, and Lovato tried to get her to stay over. Vitale opted to leave, despite feeling like something was wrong, but shrugged off the feeling thinking Lovato could take care of herself.
After Lovato was released from the hospital, Vitale started receiving death threats on her phone that she recalls were “maybe 4 to 5,000 a day” and calls that period of targeted harassment “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my life.”
“I lost all my teaching jobs — no one wanted to bring their kids to an apparent heroin dealer teacher. I lost any artist I was working with, they didn’t want to deal with the drama. I would go to studios and I would have TMZ following me to my studio. I had to rethink my whole future. All because of someone else’s decision. And that was terrifying,” she said.
In the documentary, Lovato gives Vitale a chance to fully clear her name — and she also takes responsibility for letting everyone think that her friend played a role in that fateful night for so many years.
“I feel terrible that it’s taken this long to get her story out but it’s taken me awhile to come to terms and process with that night and what happened and be ready to talk about it,” Lovato said. “I get why after the OD I was so focused on myself but unfortunately it took me too long to realize how my choices affected the people I really care about, who had stuck by me.”