It seems crazy to think that Demi Lovato is only 25 years old, because it seems like she's gone through more during her time in Hollywood than most stars do in a career that spans 5 decades. She got her start when she was still just a kid, then absolutely catapulted to stardom when she snagged a role on Camp Rock alongside the Jonas Brothers and eventually ended up with her own Disney show. For a year or two, she was at the top of her game, pursuing her acting and music careers at the same time, but eventually it all came crashing down — her addictions came to the surface, she ended up punching a back-up dancer (for ratting her out about her Adderall use, she later revealed), and basically just spiralled down a self-destructive path.
Then, she started to rebuild. She went to rehab, and made a lot of decisions to get her life back on track. She protected her sobriety. She worked hard. And while some celebrities might want to just hide their messy past and try to make everyone forget about it, Demi Lovato isn't like that — instead, she put together a special, Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, where she brings all her fans into her story — and it just made us love her even more. We're 100% Team Demi.
Here are 15 things we learned from her special — although you should watch the entire thing, trust us.
15 She tried illegal substances for the first time as a 17 year old Disney Channel star
There are definitely celebrities who get into the drug scene at a young age — who could ever forget Drew Barrymore's tragic childhood addiction issues? — but for the most part, simply because most starlets try to make it in Hollywood after they graduate high school, they're a bit older. However, Demi Lovato was certainly on the younger side — she had been messing around with drinking and things like that from a younger age, but she was just 17 years old when she first tried some illegal substances. And, it wasn't exactly a process of learning to love the feeling — Lovato admits that she loved it from the very first snort, and that took her down a dark path of addiction and constant use of illegal substances. In almost no time, she was heading into rehab — it just proves how quickly things can unravel.
14 She first explored her passion for singing through beauty pageants
One thing we totally loved about the special was the glimpse into Demi Lovato's younger years. Sure, most people have seen clips of her time on Barney, and there are countless clips of when she was just getting started on the Disney channel, but we're talking way back. Before she got into show business and started to pursue that dream, she actually participated in quite a few pageants. She was cute as a button, so we totally see why her mom would be tempted to enter her in the pageant scene, but she also had unbelievable pipes. The series features an interview with one of her vocal coaches from back in the day who basically admits that she was floored by the power behind the young Demi's voice. She definitely had the talent portion of any pageant down, that's for sure!
13 She started playing guitar at 8 or 9 and writing her own songs for a creative outlet
There are many starlets who end up achieving success because they're gorgeous and have a decent enough voice. After all, while there are pop stars who write their own music, there are also plenty who just show up, learn the song, learn the choreography, and make millions based on other people's talent. Demi Lovato isn't like that — despite her personal issues, she's been all about the music since day one. In the special, she spilled about how she got her first guitar at 8 or 9 and started learning how to play, started writing songs, and basically just realized that songwriting and music gave her an incredible creative outlet that she needed to deal with a lot of issues in her life. Who knows — maybe one day we'll get a Demi unplugged album where she strips it back and just goes acoustic.
12 She was 18 years old when she first went into treatment and got her bipolar diagnosis
Demi got wrapped up with illegal substances before she was even old enough to legally drink, and wound up in rehab by the time she was 18. And, that rehab stint ended up being valuable for something other than just dealing with her addiction issues — it was when she got diagnosed as bipolar. Lovato confesses in the special that when she got that diagnosis, it was as if a lot of her life suddenly made sense — she understood her periods of depression, and her periods of what she now saw was mania. She still had all her addiction issues to deal with, but getting a diagnosis and some help for her mental health issues was definitely invaluable — it's tough to conquer addiction if you have all those other demons on your shoulder.
11 After her first rehab stint, she went through 20 sober companions because she was so impossible to handle
Lovato was honest about how hard it was to deal with her addiction issues, and even confesses that after her first rehab stint, she wasn't really ready to get sober. Sure, she played along for the benefit of her manager and her team, but her heart wasn't in it at that point — and if you're not ready to recover, you're certainly never going to get there. Lovato admits she was really tough to deal with at that time of her life, and that as a teen fresh out of rehab, she ended up going through a staggering 20 sober companions because she just lashed out at everyone and was awful to be around. Luckily, she eventually ended up finding a member to add to her team to help her with her sobriety and journey of self-discovery — but it certainly wasn't easy.
10 She would fake drug tests with other people's urine
This goes back to the issue that, if you're not ready to recover yourself, and you don't have that internal motivation, you're just never going to be able to make that difficult journey to sobriety. Lovato admits that, after rehab, while she was telling the public she was all clean and sober, in actuality she was sneaking out, buying illegal substances, manipulating her team in various ways, etc. And, the most insane thing of them all, she actually faked drug tests by getting other people's urine. We're not exactly sure who in her life enabled her by lending her their squeaky clean urine for tests, but it definitely didn't help her out in the long run. Luckily, eventually she moved past that period of not wanting to recover, and decided to pursue it wholeheartedly — no sneaking around, no lying, none of that.
9 While she was a judge on The X Factor, she was living in a sober apartment with roommates
When you imagine where the celebrities you see on television live, chances are, you imagine super luxurious houses or condos with views of the ocean or city. After all, they're bringing in major bank — why not invest in a gorgeous pad? Well, while Lovato did buy herself a beautiful house when she was younger with all that Disney dough, at the time she was a judge on The X-Factor, she wasn't going home to her luxe pad at the end of the day. Instead, since she was totally committed to her recovery, she was living in a sober apartment with roommates, doing chores and working her program and basically just living like any other individual trying to recover. It just proves how dedicated she was to her recovery — nothing was going to derail her.
8 She admits that she'll pretty much always love Wilmer Valderrama, and that he'll always have a piece of her heart
Given all the drama she had in her personal life due to her various addictions, sometimes it's hard to remember that Demi Lovato was in a steady relationship for about 6 years, basically throughout her early 20s. She met actor Wilmer Valderrama when she was 17, they started dating once she turned 18, and they were together for quite a few years, while Demi was struggling with her various demons. She's been outspoken about what an impact he had on her life, and she spent some time during her special talking about him, and it's the absolute sweetest. She confessed that "I've never loved anybody like I loved Wilmer, and like I still love Wilmer," and that "we connected on a level that I've never connected with anybody before, he was my rock, my everything." She's loving the single life now, but who knows — maybe they're destined for one another.
7 She says her eating disorder and food issues — not addiction — is one of her biggest issues to this day
The press tended to dwell a lot on Demi Lovato's struggle with addiction to illegal substances, but Lovato herself admits that her biggest issue to this day is still food, and her eating disorder recovery. After all, with illegal substances, even though the temptation is there, you can cut them out of your life entirely. You don't need them to survive. You do, however, need to consume food, and the battle between how much you should consume and your entire attitude towards it can be incredibly difficult for those recovering from an eating disorder. Lovato has gotten a lot of positive attention for spreading a message of body positivity and accepting yourself for who you are, but admits that she still constantly struggles with food, and that it's a battle she'll likely be facing for quite some time.
6 She's trying to work her way up to a black belt in jiu jitsu
One of the most important things she's added into her routine to help her battle her demons, Lovato admitted, is working out. At one point, exercise and anything related to it was something that triggered her eating disorder, but now, she admits that "working out is a form of meditation to me... it can transport you to a totally different place." She loves to get her sweat on, and one of the things she loves most is jiu jitsu. Lovato has been training in jiu jitsu for a while now, and is trying to slowly make her way up to the level of black belt. She dished in the special that it's actually been a hugely positive force in her life to have that as something to work towards and strive for.
5 She's signed up on Raya, a dating up, and wants to be matched with both guys and girls
Lovato spent a fair bit of time towards the end of the special dishing on her love life. For years and years, she was in somewhat steady relationships, but when she made the decision to truly focus on herself and becoming her best self, she realized she needed to do it solo. However, that doesn't mean she's alone — she's on the dating app Raya, and confessed that her profile is set up to match with both men and women. As Lovato herself said "I'm open to human connection — whether that's through a male or female doesn't matter to me." At the end of the day, it's all about finding the right person — and we kind of love that Lovato isn't putting any restrictions on her search for love this time around.
4 She's all about the new single lady life — and that includes getting physical if she wants to
Hollywood is an incredibly tough place for women — they're supposed to be sensual and seductive, but not too much, or they'll be shamed for it. Lovato just rolls her eyes at all that and basically tells the world that she's going to do what she wants. She commented that "there's a certain stigma around a woman having casual s** and for me, I just feel like it's my body and it's my choice and it's a connection with somebody and it's fun." We love her attitude! She also did dish that she has a bit of a thing for athletes, so who knows — perhaps you'll see a world famous athlete on Lovato's arm at some point, either for a relationship or just for a fun night on the town while she's on tour.
3 She attends 'emo nite' as often as she can
It's pretty obvious that Lovato isn't your typical shiny, blonde, bubbly pop star — that's exactly why so many of her fans love her. However, until the special aired, we're pretty sure no one knew just how much of an emo side Lovato had. Apparently, since music from the time period where emo was a worldwide phenomenon had such a big impact on Lovato, she still has a huge soft spot for it — and makes it a point to attend emo nite, a special event that happens once a month in L.A., as much as she's able to. The special shows her orchestrating a sing-along in a packed crowd, and she just looks insanely happy — which just proves how important it is to be yourself and do what you love, no matter what the world thinks.
2 She fought to have "Sorry Not Sorry" as her first single on her latest album
It's no secret that a ton of pop songs are about love, relationships, and everything involved in that world. And, a ton of Lovato's past hits were on those topics. So, when it came time to pick a debut single for her newest album, a ton of people were advocating for one of those types of songs. However, Lovato was adamant — she was a new Demi, with new priorities and a new empowered single lady life, and she wanted a different kind of song for her debut single. She wanted "Sorry Not Sorry." She fought for that song, her team ended up allowing it to be her debut single, and it was a total smash hit — the woman's got good instincts! And, we have to agree, it was the perfect way to launch her new album as a new Demi.
1 That voice is 100% legit — and she's had it since she was a child
More than any other genre, pop stars often get accused of lip syncing. After all, a lot of their songs use different techniques that can smooth out any rough edges in a vocal, and they're often busting out crazy dance moves on stage that would make it almost impossible to sing. And, simply because her vocals are absolutely insane, Lovato has gotten accused of lip syncing from time to time, or of getting her vocals enhanced in the studio. However, all the raw footage in the special, from clips of her in the recording studio to clips of her singing on stage as a child, prove that she's 100% the real deal. Those pipes are absolutely lethal, and they're the reason she's become such an incredible success. I mean, that voice is just bananas.