It’s been a year and a half since an ambulance rushed Demi Lovato to the hospital after an apparent drug overdose. And she’s made some major changes since then.
On July 24, 2018, Lovato was hospitalized just a month after the singer admitted in her single “Sober,” that she relapsed following six years of sobriety.
Lovato broke her silence two weeks later, writing in a since-deleted Instagram post, “I want to thank God for keeping me alive and well. I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction. What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet.”
How has her life changed since? Lovato’s rep didn’t return USA TODAY’s request for comment, but from the star’s pubic declarations to her work decisions, here’s a look at her major milestones.
Demi Lovato performed at the 2020 Grammy Awards
Lovato performed at the 2020 Grammy Awards on Jan. 26 for her powerful return to the stage. After getting choked up at the start of her performance, Lovato delivered an emotional version of her new song “Anyone,” which she wrote just days before her hospitalization. She receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
Lovato celebrated life ‘lessons’
After the singer reportedly checked into a rehab facility in August 2018, she gradually returned to social media, posting a voting booth snapshot on Instagram that November, a sweaty post-workout selfie in December and ringing in the new year with a simple glass of Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider.
“So grateful for the lessons I’ve learned this year,” Lovato wrote on New Year’s Day. “I will never take another day in life for granted, even the bad ones.”
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Mental health became Lovato’s priority
Lovato has continued to become more vocal about her media coverage, saying her recovery was marred by “inaccurate” stories from the tabloids and accusing some outlets of “making up stuff to sell a story.”
“If I feel like the world needs to know something, I will tell them MYSELF … I am sober and grateful to be alive and taking care of ME,” she declared on Dec. 22, 2018, adding that “someday I’ll tell the world what exactly happened” but right now, she’s “happy and clean.”
More: Demi Lovato’s back on Instagram with a sweaty selfie
Her fans continue to root for her, particularly after Lovato broke ground years ago as “one of the first mainstream pop stars to speak frankly about mental health,” says Lyndsey Parker, music editor at Yahoo Entertainment.
“The climate she’s coming back to is more empathetic than it used to be,” adds Parker, noting how harshly stars like Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse were judged during their most turbulent times. “Now people are a little more kind.”
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She signed with Scooter Braun
In May, Lovato announced she’d signed with Scooter Braun, who represents fellow pop stars Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande (though Taylor Swift is no fan). She even attended Braun’s fundraiser on July 20 for Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris.
Experts say he’ll likely have a more behind-the-scenes role, rather than a direct musical influence. “Obviously Scooter has demonstrated an ability to manage difficult situations when it comes to pop artists, from Justin Bieber overcoming his controversy to Ariana Grande dealing with tragedy following Manchester (bombing) in 2017,” says Jason Lipshutz, senior director of music for Billboard magazine.
It makes Braun a strong resource for Lovato. “Scooter has demonstrated that he understands when the time is right to say what an artist needs to say, and offer that type of support,” says Lipshutz.
Lovato took on body-shamers
Lovato has also put an emphasis on body positivity since returning to the public eye.
The singer, who has been open about her struggles with an eating disorder, faced critics who commented that “she gained some weight back” in November, and by March put her foot down when an Inquisitr headline announced she “appears to have a fuller figure.”
She responded, “I AM MORE THAN MY WEIGHT.”
“Too many people today base their ideal body weight off of what OTHERS tell us we should look like or weigh,” she added. “You are more than a number on a scale. And I am more than a headline about my body shape.” (She later forgave the writer.)
More: Demi Lovato forgives writer for weight-focused story about her ‘fuller figure’
Cut to this summer: Lovato confidently showed off her bikini body in Bora Bora and came to Bebe Rexha’s defense in June when she faced trolls, writing, “You are GORGEOUS, strong, authentic and an inspiration to me and so many.”
Related: Bebe Rexha doesn’t let body-shaming comments get to her, with help from Demi Lovato
Next stop: Lovato’s new album
Lovato’s side of the story may finally be coming to light. The “Confident” singer teased an upcoming album last summer.
“You know what’s great about making an album?” she wrote on her Instagram story June 25. “You get to say anything you want, be as open and honest as possible and finally tell your side of the story regardless of who might not like it.”
New Music: Demi Lovato’s next album will tell her story ‘regardless of who might not like it’
What will that album be like? Lovato’s penchant for confessional lyrics point to a mature, ballad-heavy album (with a few requisite bangers). “If she pulls it off, I can see her having her big Grammy comeback moment,” says Parker.
And the charts will be waiting for her.
“When it comes to her place as an A-list pop star who can headline arenas and has one of the most extraordinary voices of any pop artist working today … no matter what is going on trend-wise around her, Demi will always have that (fan) base and that show of support, where she’ll remain in the A-list,” says Lipshutz.
Contributing: Charles Trepany, Anika Reed