Demi Lovato is no stranger to the spotlight, but in her upcoming YouTube documentary series Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil, the singer and former Disney star opens up in new ways about her history with addiction — specifically, about the circumstances around the 2018 overdose that nearly killed her. The four-part documentary, which premieres March 23, doesn’t hesitate to dive into some of the more traumatic and painful experiences in Lovato’s life, touching on everything from sexual assault to the medical issues she’s still dealing with after her overdose.
One of the people Demi discusses in the documentary is her late father, Patrick Lovato, who died in June 2013 after a long battle with cancer. Demi had a difficult relationship with her father, who she was estranged from for a long time in part due to his history of abusive behavior towards her mother, Dianna De La Garza. In her 2018 memoir, Falling with Wings: A Mother’s Story, Dianna De La Garza wrote about her experience of domestic abuse during her marriage to Patrick Lovato, which ended in 1994. “I thought I could change him, and I think victims of domestic abuse often feel the same way,” De La Garza wrote. “You’re not always going to be able to change someone, no matter how much you want to.” Soon after leaving Demi’s father, Dianna got remarried to her current husband, Eddie De La Garza.
Lovato’s father was reportedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and also struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism. She spoke about her father’s experiences with addiction in relation to her own in her 2017 documentary Simply Complicated. “My dad was an addict and an alcoholic,” Lovato said at the time. “Guess I always searched for what he found in drugs and alcohol because it fulfilled him, and he chose that over a family.”
Despite their difficult relationship, Lovato’s relationship with her father had reportedly improved slightly prior to his death. “I was very conflicted when he passed because he was abusive,” Lovato told People magazine in 2015, two years after her father’s passing. “He was mean, but he wanted to be a good person, and he wanted to have his family. When my mom married my stepdad, he still had this huge heart where he would say, ‘I’m so glad Eddie’s taking care of you and doing the job that I wish I could do.'”
In September of 2020, Lovato wrote a letter for Vogue in which, amid comments on Black Lives Matter and mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, she talked about writing her father a gratitude letter. “There was the anniversary of my father’s death, which is a couple of days after Father’s Day — a really hard time of year for me,” Lovato said. “But this year, something happened. I wrote a gratitude letter to him, thanking him for all the things that I got from him. It was this beautiful release of all the resentments I had towards him. I realized, for the first time, that I wasn’t going to have daddy issues for the rest of my life.”
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.