JoJo is sharing her family’s harrowing battle with addiction in hopes her story will save others from the same heartbreak.
The “F— Apologies” singer — who released her new triumphant new album Mad Love. last month — is participating in Vevo’s “Why I Vote” video series, in which celebrities including Kesha, John Legend and Andra Day discuss issues that have affected them personally and how seeking reform is driving them to the polls next Tuesday.
“I knew my dad was struggling with narcotics when I was 11, 12,” the singer, 25, said in the moving clip, in which she reveals her father had to quit working and go on unemployment after becoming disabled when she was a child. “After he stopped working is when he really got into narcotics. I never knew why he was out of it or why he would fall asleep at the wheel or why he would slur his words. I didn’t understand that, and my mom kept that from me because she didn’t want to upset me and she didn’t want me to look at him in a certain way, and I really respect that.”
In the clip, she said her father’s dependency on narcotics put a strain on their relationship, and they were even estranged for times.
“I got a call when I was in L.A. that my dad had overdosed for the…I don’t know what number time it was and that he wasn’t gonna make it,” JoJo said, recalling a relapse in recent years that led to her to return to her native New Hampshire to visit him in the hospital.
“He was hooked up to a bunch of machines, and he had fallen, and he was out of it; he didn’t know what was going on,” she said, getting emotional and tearing up in the clip. “Me and my aunts had discussed what we were gonna do this time: We were gonna practice tough love, and we were gonna cut him off because it was too much for us as a family to keep going through. But I looked at him and saw him hooked up to these machines, and I just couldn’t give up on him…that’s my one dad. I just couldn’t do it. In that moment, I felt, who am I to give up on you. I just decided that I was gonna love him, and I’m really glad I did.”
A year ago, JoJo announced that her father had succumbed to his demons and died at the age of 60, and today she’s speaking out to call for reform in how people struggling with addiction and drug abuse handled.
“I don’t feel that he had the resources or the tools available to him to help himself. I don’t want other families to be broken up and have their lives ruined as a result of addiction,” she added. “I really, really do think that there are ways to help. Throwing an addict in jail is not doing anything to help the problem…We’re wasting our money, we’re misusing our resources, and I think we’re hurting ourselves. It’s important to elect politicians who will make a difference with drug abuse and addiction because it’s affecting all of us.”
The singer added: “It’s hard, I guess, to have sympathy for a lot of drug addicts because we think that it’s their fault or they asked for it or something, but you do not ask to have your life shaken up that way and to have everything taken from you. That’s what addiction does: It strips everything from you…
“I see the way I lost my own father to addiction—and it makes me sad that people feel so distraught that they risk it all and end up losing everything.”