Inside Demi Lovato's Support System: How Her Closest Relationships Have Held Her Up and Knocked Her Down Over the Years

The truth about the family and friends rallying around the singer in the wake of her shocking overdose

By Natalie Finn Jul 25, 2018 9:18 PMTags

The big question remains, who has Demi Lovato been spending her time with lately?

We know from the outpouring of love and prayers, including the touching hashtag "#HowDemiHasHelpedMe" that was circulating Tuesday in the wake of her shocking overdose, there's a big, wide world out there that cares about her. But only so many people truly know the singer enough to have been witness to the personal ups and downs that have shadowed her career as she made the leap from Disney Channel star to fierce pop artist and beacon of inspiration for fans who have struggled with sobriety, depression, bullying, body image and other issues.

As tends to be the case, friends and boyfriends have come and gone from the 25-year-old's life over the years, with only a select few remaining in the inner circle, by her design. Unfortunately, being surrounded by certain friends didn't help her avoid a downward spiral, which resulted in Demi being rushed to the hospital yesterday, hours after she'd been at a birthday party Monday night in West Hollywood. Demi's mom, Dianna De La Garza, and sisters Dallas Lovato and Madison De La Garza, all of whom have remained in her orbit through good times and bad, went to be with her at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Demi Lovato's Quotes on Sobriety and Mental Health

Demi's parents divorced when she was 2 and father Patrick Lovato, who died in 2013, was an alcoholic and drug addict. The "Skyscraper" singer delved into her predisposition for substance abuse in the 2017 documentary Simply Complicated, which examines Demi's rise and alarming falls as she worked on getting her demons under control, burning through 20 sober companions in the process.

"My dad was an addict and an alcoholic, and I guess I always searched for what he found in drugs and alcohol because it fulfilled him and he chose that over a family," she says in the movie.

"I thought I could change him, and I think victims of domestic abuse often feel the same way," Dianna wrote in her new memoir Falling With Wings: A Mother's Story, which chronicles her own experience and her famous daughter's troubles. "You're not always going to be able to change someone, no matter how much you want to. There may come a point where your love for that person may not be enough to keep you safe."

So, she left, taking Demi and Dallas with her to a women's shelter.

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"I always encouraged my girls to have a relationship with him… as long as he was responsible and wasn't putting them in any danger," Diana wrote. "I wanted them to love him. They talked to him on the phone and tried to have a relationship with him, until he passed away."

Not every celebrity welcomes a parent's decision to write a memoir with open arms, but Demi was on board with her mom's efforts, even penning the book's foreword.

"I'm so proud of my mom for achieving something she's always wanted to do—tell her story," Demi told People recently. "She's resilient, inspiring and strong. Because of her journey and strength to overcome the obstacles that she's faced in her life, she is my hero."

Demi has been among the most candid celebrities of the past decade when it comes to being open about her myriad issues, including her battle with bulimia, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and practicing self-harm.

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"There were times I felt so anxious, almost like I was crawling out of my skin—that if I didn't do something physical to match the way I felt inside, I would explode," she told Self in 2012.

"I may have passed that along to my kids— that wanting everything to be perfect and the need to be thin and beautiful to be successful," Dianna admitted in Simply Complicated. While her children were young, she had her own battles with depression, anorexia and Xanax addiction.

"Even though I was 2 or 3 years old, being around somebody who… had an active eating disorder… it's hard not to grow up like that," Demi reflected in the movie.

"She was living two lives," her longtime manager Phil McIntyre recalled in Simply Complicated. "…Once the camera stops rolling, she's living another life. She couldn't really be herself. She couldn't be a normal teenager." Sure enough, there was a tipping point.

She went to rehab in November 2010 at the age of 18 after a public outburst, which included punching a backup dancer in the face, in South America while on tour with the Jonas Brothers, about six months after her relationship with Joe Jonas ended.


"I went from being at the highlight of my career," Demi told Ellen DeGeneres in 2011. "So many things were going great in my life and then all of the sudden my personal life just went down at crazy speeds.  I had a negative breakdown and it changed my life forever, but I'm glad that it did, because if I had never gone into the treatment...I don't know if, one, I'd even be sitting here today. Two, if I'd be alive today."

Sobriety didn't take the first time around, however, frustrating her team to no end. McIntyre said that he was at a loss as to what to do next with here, so he got "everybody on the team, business managers, attorneys, agents, everybody, to say 'if Phil walks, we walk.'"

Smashing her phone—"the gateway to everything," to the drugs, the partying, the wrong people—wasn't enough. Phil had her dunk it in a vase of water.  Demi in turn spent her first year as a judge on The X Factor in 2012 living in a sober apartment, with roommates, doing chores.

Throughout her career, Demi has had a more—not quite personal, but intense—relationship with her fans than most stars, engaging with them frequently on social media and  going out of her way to make them feel appreciated, be it in person, on Twitter or from the stage, where the Unbroken artist regularly weaves life lessons in among the songs.

"Every time someone asks me for a picture or an autograph, even if I'm having a bad day and I'm in a bad mood, I remember, 'You're nothing without this person.' They make it special," she reflected in the 2012 MTV documentary Demi Lovato: Stay Strong (which, she revealed in Simply Complicated, she did an interview for while on cocaine).

"Stone cold helped me when I was going through a breakup sorry not sorry helped me become unapologetically myself Skyscraper brought me out of depression Confident made me feel like I could take on the world Really dont care helped me remember my worth. #HowDemiHasHelpedMe," fan Caity tweeted Tuesday night.

Demi Lovato Through the Years

Wrote Kevin #PrayForDemi: "#HowDemiHasHelpedMe when I was at the worst part of my life and I just wanted to give up completely, Demi's speeches and music and book just kept me going and helped me be able to finally ask for help. I just recently passed 5 years clean and I credit that partially to her."

That's an intense back and forth, and the pressure that inevitably comes with being a source of strength to many people hasn't been easy. In 2015 she publicly mourned her great-grandfather, and she lost her uncle and beloved great-grandmother, whom she affectionately called Mimaw, in 2016.

"I miss her more than words can even describe," Demi wrote in tribute. "There is an emptiness in my heart that only her spirit can fill and I pray that I will feel her by my side every single day until we meet again. I attribute my strength to her. She held on when she lost the love of her life. The one she was married to for 53 years. She smiled even though she lost a son just this year. She told everyone she loved them every single chance she got and she joked even when her strokes left her unable to speak properly."


Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS

Lovato revealed in her 2018 song "Sober", released several months after she marked six years of sobriety, that she had fallen off the wagon.

Having been on TV or otherwise performing since she was a little girl, Demi has been around fellow celebrities and "Hollywood types" all her life, and years spent trying to make healthier decisions for herself has made her particularly wary of fakery and toxic influences.

Lovato told Billboard earlier this year that she had a "terrible experience" at the 2016 Met Gala. "This one celebrity was a complete bitch and was miserable to be around. It was very cliquey. I remember being so uncomfortable that I wanted to drink." She skipped the after-party and went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, still wearing her diamonds.

Andrew H. Walker/REX/Shutterstock

"And I related more to the homeless people in that meeting who struggled with the same struggles that I deal with than the people at the Met Gala—fake and sucking the fashion industry's dick," she said.

Demi has found more likeminded company among the famous set with the likes of Hailee Steinfeld, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, whom she met at one of Jennifer Lopez's Halloween parties and performed with at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.

"The people that aren't willing to chill with you at home are the type of people that just want to be seen with you," Demi told Billboard. "When Ariana Grande and I hang out, it's super chill." As for Iggy, "She's super low-key; she doesn't drink or party. She has struggled a lot. 'No money, no family, 16 in the middle of Miami.' That lyric explains a lot of her story. She's very outspoken, and sometimes it can turn people off. But that's one of the reasons I love her. She's not the type of person who lies to you."

25 Reasons Why We Love Demi Lovato
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Honesty and loyalty have become of primary importance to Demi, who's had her share of heartbreak.

All the way back in 2011, she explained that her song "Skyscraper" was a message "to every person who tried to bring me down." She told Glamour, "Everyone has the bully or the mean girl or the ex-boyfriend who tried to bring them down. For me, I think of the people who really weren't there for me when I went into treatment. It was a really dark time for me because I had only a few people—I had surrounded myself with so many artificial friendships. It's about those people too."

While reflecting on their relationship, Joe frankly referred to Demi's past drug abuse and how hard that was to deal with in a 2013 article in New York magazine, which gave Demi pause. "I was like, 'Look, I'm not mad at you but you need to choose your words more carefully next time,'" she told E! News. At the same time, Demi continued, "Joe and I argue like brother and sister and [he's] always going to be in my life. He meant no harm and he's never had a chance to tell his side of the story so I'm proud of him." 

Despite the trauma attached to that time, she and Joe are on good terms, and his brother Nick Jonas remains a close friend.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

"I don't really hang out with celebrities," she told Complex in 2015. "I guess I do sometimes. I like Hailee Steinfeld. And Nick. But I don't count Nick and Joe as celebrities. I've grown up with them. I'm not the type of person that's on Instagram posting pictures of me and tons of my best friends. I have my core group, and they're the type of people that will be there for me in the middle of the night. They're the type of people that are like, 'You're being a bitch right now. Don't talk to me that way,' and I'm like, 'Whoa. Sorry. I didn't realize it.' I don't have anybody around me who kisses my ass."

In 2016 she told Glamour that there's "an element of trust that you don't find with people nowadays" with Nick. "He's family. I am the person who tells him things he doesn't want to hear, like I told him to be more vulnerable with his music. And I was like, 'Let people see how funny you are.' I want the world to be able to laugh the same way I do when I'm around him.

Demi's once-close relationship with Selena Gomez, who's had her own struggles that have required treatment, is the stuff of backstabbing legend. "Ask Taylor!" Demi once fired back at a paparazzo who inquired about Selena, implying Taylor Swift had something to do with the demise of their friendship. Then there were rumors that Demi was among the many who took issue with Selena's off-and-on relationship with Justin Bieber.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for MTV

But while the rumors are juicy, the former childhood BFFs may have just grown apart.

Asked if she was still in contact with Gomez, Lovato tersely told Complex, "Nope."

Asked if it had anything to do with a "particular relationship choice," she said, "Not really. Not anymore."

Bieber appeared to be "maturing," she acknowledged. "But, you know, when you're young and you get older, you change and people change. You have things in common, and then all of a sudden, you don't. It's just a part of life."

Demi Lovato's Famous Peers Send Love and Support After Possible Overdose

A source told E! News, meanwhile, that Gomez, who's had her own struggles and medical issues over the years, got "very upset and emotional" when she heard about Lovato's overdose. They "haven't been close friends in awhile now, but still always shared a special bond and love for one another."

"Thinking of you Demi," Steinfeld tweeted today.

 "i love u @ddlovato," Grande tweeted simply in response to the news. Her mom, Joan Grande, meanwhile, went into more detail Wednesday, paying tribute to Demi for always being such a positive force of energy for her family, including Ariana's brother Frankie Grande, who recently marked a year of sobriety.

Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Marriott

Nick, who has said that Demi is "the third person I call" after his dad and Joe when good or bad stuff happens, tweeted Tuesday, "Like all of you I am reeling at the news about Demi. All of us love her and need to pray for her to get well. She is a fighter. #prayfordemi."

Joe mirrored the sentiment, writing, "Like all of you I am thinking of @DDLovato right now. She needs our prayers and support. We all know how strong you are Demi. #prayfordemi."

Kevin Jonas, also among the growing-up-Disney set, tweeted, "Sending my prayers and thoughts to @ddlovato and her family right now.

Staying publicly silent for now is Wilmer Valderrama, Demi's at-times very serious boyfriend over the years, whom she seemingly remained close to after they broke up in 2016. They still spent time together and were out having lunch as recently as February.

John Shearer/Getty Images

"They could definitely end up back together," a source told E! News at the time. "They have crazy love for one another and a very special place in each other's hearts. When you have history like theirs, things are so comfortable and familiar. Nothing can really compare."

When they split up in 2016, a source told us, "Wilmer is still very protective of her. He did a lot for her—not just in terms of being there for her when she had her health issues, but really helping build her brand and launch her product lines. You never saw him out in front though. He never tried to ride her fame." 


Moreover, "he was very close to her family. I don't expect that will change. There was a lot of love there."

"I've never loved anybody like I loved Wilmer," Lovato, who first met the actor on Jan. 11, 2010, at a PSA shoot for the U.S. Census at his house, when he was 29 and she was 17, said in Simply Complicated. "And like, I still love Wilmer." They didn't start dating until she was 18, she recalled, but "I think it was love at first sight. I don't really believe in that, but I believe that it happened." Breaking up had nothing to do with falling out of love. "We just decided together we were probably better off as friends."

As for now, a source told People that Wilmer is "shocked" by Demi's hospitalization.

"He knew she was going through a tough time but he wasn't prepared for this," the source said. "He saw her through so many ups and downs and was her rock through some of her darkest moments. To see her back in such a sad and vulnerable place is heartbreaking for him."


As it's heartbreaking for everyone who always hoped for the best for Demi, only to be terrified by this close call.

"She had a sober coach who she cut out of her life a few months ago," a source tells E! News. "She's been in a downward spiral ever since and has not been doing well. She's been heavily using and her friends have been very worried that this was going to happen."

But even the closest friends can only get so close to the truth. Demi remains hospitalized, surrounded by loved ones who have seen her struggle and whose main concern right now is that she keeps living to fight another day.

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