After news spread of the singer Demi Lovato's recent drug overdose, fans have rallied in support, wishing her a speedy recovery and thanking her for serving as an inspiration to work through their personal struggles in the areas of mental health and addiction.
In a Facebook post last night, Kristina Messina, 24, wrote, "Demi has been such an inspiration for me and my recovery. The fact that she overdosed has broke my heart into a million pieces. Addiction is no joke. It's scary and people die from this."
Her words referenced the rough and winding road to recovery.
Lovato was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital on Tuesday for an apparent overdose. News outlets have reported that she is awake and responsive. Lovato was scheduled to play an Atlantic City beach concert — her only East Coast date — on Thursday, but will no longer appear. Scheduled opener Lauv and Cheat Codes, a new addition to the lineup, will play instead. Tickets for Thursday's show will also be honored at Sunday's Chainsmokers concert at the same venue.
The former Disney star has frequently discussed her struggles with mental health and addiction. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was previously hospitalized. Lovato's latest personal address of her substance abuse and health issues is in her song "Sober," where she reveals she relapsed after six years.
Like Lovato, Messina has traveled the road more than once, spending time in eating disorder recovery centers in Philadelphia and New Jersey. She said that Lovato's willingness to talk about her struggles inspired her to share her own story.
"I don't have a platform as large as hers, but sharing your story is never limited by the amount of people seeing it," said Messina, who posted a cover of Lovato's song "Sober" on her Instagram account this month to raise awareness for relapse and getting back on track.
Paulina Freed, 21, a senior at Drexel University who looked to Lovato for inspiration while recovering from an eating disorder at the Renfrew Center in Radnor, said the singer's openness encouraged her to speak out as well.
"Demi was a big inspiration for all of us there," Freed said. "She started the conversation about mental health in mainstream media and that made it OK for us to talk about the fact that we struggled, too."
Liz Cox, 27, who also received eating disorder treatment in Philadelphia, said Lovato taught her that it was OK to ask for help when she was struggling.
"She has worked to help stop the stigma around mental health for all of us," said Cox, who has suffered from anorexia, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD for most of her life. Cox said that the news did not come as a surprise to her, however, and that she picked up hints that the singer was doing less than OK from "Sober." "Nobody writes about saying goodbyes and dying inside and is OK," Cox said.
Lovato's words not only spoke to those struggling with eating disorders and addiction, but also to those with all sorts of mental-health hardships.
Kori Lazar, 19, a junior at Temple University and Lovato fan since her Camp Rock days, also credits Lovato for getting her through some dark times.
"Demi produced music that made me dance around my room with happiness and, for a small moment, forget my own struggles," Lazar said. "To hear her say that she understood me, too, and resonated with things that I was facing, made her a role model."
Lazar added that although she was saddened by the news, she is also forgiving. "The worst part about just being a fan is that I can't just wrap my arms around her and tell her how much I love her and thank her for all she has given me. All I can do is to continue to support her music, which is the relationship we have. Her music is just as inspiring as her soul, and I know she will come back from this stronger because she has before," Lazar said.
Hannah Cooper, 21, of Allentown, responded emotionally to Lovato's relapse as well and said her heart "just kind of dropped. It was like someone I knew on a personal level was going through this."
Cooper became a devoted Lovato fan in 2012 when the former Disney star first came forward about struggles with mental health. "I found her when I was in a really bad place and her message and story were really inspiring," Cooper said. "Being so open with her fans when she didn't have to be — I found that touching."
Others, like Siani Colon, 19, a junior at Temple University, looked to Lovato as motivation to overcome self-harm. "I found solace in her music," Colon said. "I was able to see her find alternatives to that harm, and advocate for those who had the same problems. 'If she can get through it, I can too.' "
As for if Lovato will bounce back from this stint, fans are hopeful.