Demi Lovato is many things: A musician, an actress, a superstar, and a hilarious person to follow on Twitter. She's also refreshingly honest about her struggle with addiction. In case you haven't heard, right now, she's hurting. That means she deserves all the empathy in the world. In the wake of her reported overdose on July 24, supporting Demi Lovato is the only option.
Lovato has been open about her struggle with addiction for years. She entered show business at a young age — as in, you probably saw her on Barney and Friends — and never left. Early on, she kept her turmoil a secret, but started to let fans in when it reached a breaking point. She entered rehab and moved into a sober living facility. For a time, that seemed to be enough. But addiction is a disease. As the Center On Addiction puts it, "Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods."
In other words, no one goes out of their way to become addicted to a harmful substance. Addiction isn't a choice, so let's stop treating it as such.
Lovato's accidental overdose has sent shockwaves through her fandom. Support from other stars who have overcome addiction has poured in on social media. Lovato's humor, candor, and self-awareness endeared her to fans long before July 24, so many public reactions have been compassionate. Feeds have flooded with understanding and love as headlines roll in. Unfortunately, that positivity hasn't reached some corners of the internet. Statements like, "No sympathy here, she's the one who picked up the drugs" have permeated comment sections. So if you're one of the people who refuse to see addiction as a medical problem, a disease, or something worth their time at all, this message is for you: Maybe negative statements like these come from personal experience, or maybe they come from fear. Knowing how easily a person can fall victim to addiction is horrifying, and it's not a pleasant thing to consider. It's a lot easier to place blame on someone you don't know. But no good comes from placing blame.
The next time you want to comment something hurtful about Lovato's current situation, or attempt to fault her for her addiction, don't. Pause before you post a holier-than-thou diatribe online. What she's going through could happen to anyone, at any moment. The world didn't lose another person to addiction, and that's worth celebrating.