"Demi began to feel that the belief that total abstinence is the only way to deal with addiction is false, she essentially said that she felt it wasn’t the only way and that she can handle her addictions," a source tells PEOPLE
Demi Lovato’s apparent opioid overdose and subsequent hospitalization on Tuesday has left longtime friends “shocked” and “reeling,” but some close to the 25-year-old singer have noticed that all has not been well with her.
Sources tell PEOPLE that Lovato has been “a total mess for months,” and some point to her new perspective on sobriety and a subsequent split with Mike Bayer, her longtime life coach, as a major red flag.
“Demi began to feel that the belief that total abstinence is the only way to deal with addiction is false,” a source with insider knowledge of the situation tells PEOPLE.
“She essentially said that she felt it wasn’t the only way and that she can handle her addictions, and she would rather attempt controlled consumption. She felt that she could drink in moderation and she believed she wouldn’t return to harder drug use, and that alcohol was never really a problem as much as other things.”
Lovato, who celebrated six years of sobriety in March, went public about her recent return to substances in June with her confessional new single, “Sober” — a song she performed just two days before her hospitalization. The lyrics are a seemingly regretful account of her drug use.
“Mama, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore / And daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor,” she sings on the heartbreaking piano ballad. “And I’m sorry for the fans I lost who watched me fall again / I wanna be a role model, but I’m only human.” Heartfelt words close out the track: “I’m sorry that I’m here again / I promise I’ll get help / It wasn’t my intention / I’m sorry to myself.”
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Lovato has battled addiction, mental illness and disordered eating for years. In 2010 she entered treatment, where she received professional help for bipolar disorder, bulimia, self-harm and addiction. She relapsed after she left the treatment center, then entered a sober living facility for a year. It was here that she first became close with Bayer. The pair teamed up on a treatment facility of their own, CAST Centers, with Lovato as co-owner and Bayer as CEO.
However, their relationship appears to have disintegrated in recent months, with the pair seeming to allude to their parting of ways in recent social media posts.
Sources told PEOPLE that Lovato also cut ties with many on her team recently due to her decision. After that, says the source, it was a “slippery slope” for the star.
“It led to her believing in the myth of moderation and controlled consumption, which absolutely does not work if you are an addict. Every addict who fools themselves into thinking they can ‘use responsibly’ is merely back on the slippery slope to rock bottom, which they’ll hit eventually.”
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.