Demi Lovato remains hospitalized after her apparent overdose and is awake. What's next in the singer's journey to recovery?
On Tuesday, the singer, who has in the past spent time in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, was found unconscious at her home in Los Angeles. She was transported to a hospital and her family members rushed to her bedside. The singer's publicist later said, "Demi is awake and with her family who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support."
Lovato being awake "doesn't tell us much" but it does mean "she is now going to be safe and evaluated a little bit more closely for what the cause of her being found unconscious was, whether it was drug-related or otherwise," said Dr. Sherry Yafai, a trained ER physician who works as the director of research and development at the High Sobriety recovery clinic in Los Angeles and the medical director of the Releaf institute for pain management. She is not treating Lovato.
"What they will do now is press on as to what's the next best course of action," Yafai told E! News. "Does she need to be held in the hospital for a period of time? Does she not need to be held in the hospital? Can she go home? Is this a wake-up call? Does this need to be something that needs to be addressed further in a situation like rehab? Does her sobriety need to come into question? With all those different scenarios, what's going to happen is a combination of medical services as well as social services will help determine why and how long this has been going on."
Yafai told E! News that if Lovato did suffer an accidental overdose, "she'll need to be cleared socially and have a conversation with her physician about whether or not she needs to go to rehab."
"She and her family and probably her physician will have a discussion as to if that's the appropriate choice right now and if she's safe to go to rehab facility and what that will look like for the next 30 to 90 days," she said.
Lovato's hospitalization took place a month after the singer released her song "Sober," in which she sings about breaking her sobriety after six years. The substance or substances that caused her apparent overdose have not been made public. First responders had treated Lovato with Narcan, an opioid-overdose antidote, before transporting her to the hospital.
"Unfortunately, it's more common these days for patients to relapse," Yafai told E! News. "With the opioid epidemic that we've been facing for a number of years now, we've seen about a 75 percent relapse rate after patients go through rehab and sobriety. We're seeing an alarming number of patients relapse. The problem tends to be when patients relapse, they are going back to the same dosages that they used to be on but now that their bodies have been sober for a period of time, it is too much for them. It becomes way too much for their bodies to handle and that's how we see a lot of overdoses present in the emergency department."
"Narcan is the technical antidote for opiate overdoses and right now, since we've declared opioids an epidemic in the United States, what we've started doing here in California is providing Narcan," Yafai said. "Narcan is usually available to emergency medical services, but now we're starting to power the police with it so they have the capacity to administer that, so that patients can survive."