Content warning: This story includes mentions of drug use, self-harm, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation.
Demi Lovato dispels a “common misconception” about why people use drugs in an upcoming podcast interview, E! Online reports. Lovato, who has been increasingly open about her own history of drug use and mental health issues, explains that just because someone is using drugs, dealing with an eating disorder, or engaging in self-harm doesn’t mean that person wants to die.
In fact, coping mechanisms like these can actually be helpful, she says in an interview with Doom Patrol‘s Diane Guerrero on an episode of Yeah No, I’m Not OK. “In the same way [drug use] almost killed me, it saved my life at times, because there were times that I dealt with suicidal ideations,” she says, per E! Online. “And had I gone forward with that in that moment, instead of [using] another destructive coping mechanism, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.”
Looking back now that she’s been in treatment, Lovato says she understands that “I turned to those coping mechanisms because I genuinely was in so much pain that I didn’t want to die and I didn’t know what else to do.” The truth is that even what might be considered “unhealthy” or “destructive” coping mechanisms can do their job. Essentially, if you’re still alive, that means your coping mechanisms are working.
But, of course, some of those coping mechanisms can also come with drawbacks that negatively affect you and those around you in sometimes serious ways. That’s why the goal of treatment or therapy is often to introduce new coping mechanisms or to limit the harms of the ones you have, which is exactly what Lovato says happened for her. “I did the best that I could at times,” she says, “and now that I have other tools and other resources, I know how else to deal and how else to cope so I don’t have to resort to those behaviors again.”
But the stigma that comes with engaging in certain coping behaviors, like self-harm or drug use, can keep people from seeking and getting the help they need. So one reason why Lovato is so open about her history is to reinforce the message that “we all struggle,” she says—even celebrities with seemingly perfect lives. “We’re presenting unrealistic expectations to people by only presenting our best selves at all times,” she says.
If you’re thinking about hurting yourself or just need someone to talk to right now, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line. And here is a list of international suicide helplines if you’re outside the United States.
If you’re struggling with drug use or addiction, you can call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to get referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.