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Why 'Dancing With The Devil' Is One of Demi Lovato's Most Important Songs

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In case you missed it, Demi Lovato’s new album, “Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over,” dropped Friday, April 2. Although the child actor turned musical artist has spent the past two years mostly out of the spotlight after their 2018 overdose, they’re making an incredible comeback between their recent YouTube docuseries and this incredible 19-song album.

Since I’m a huge Demi Lovato fan, I couldn’t wait to listen to the album while I worked from home Friday morning. While I instantly connected with several of the songs, the title single “Dancing With The Devil” moved me because of the way they so eloquently describes the spiral of addiction.

The song starts with the line, “It’s just a little red wine, I’ll be fine.” Yet by the second verse, they’re talking about tinfoil and pipes. While this sounds like an extreme jump to some, anyone who has battled addiction knows how much these lyrics ring true.

In fact, anyone with a history of addiction knows just how slippery the slope really is. It almost always starts with just one innocent glass of wine, just one small cut or just one meal. As the cycle continues, though, denial and lack of awareness quickly snowball, especially when combined with underlying stress or mental health conditions.

Once the cycle of addiction begins, most people find it difficult to break free. Speaking from experience, it’s not the “high” that makes an addiction difficult to break — it’s the underlying need the addiction fills.

For Lovato and countless others, their addiction gave their back a sense of control that the people in their life and the demands of their career took away from their years ago. Also for Lovato and myself, addiction serves as more of a coping mechanism or escape route from the “twisted reality” of our past.

Instead of permanently providing any benefit, though, addiction only serves as a stop gap. Over time, it becomes harder and harder to fill that underlying void. This is when many people who battle addiction grow increasingly risky and impulsive “for the sake of the high.” In many cases, we start “dancing with the devil” and riding the line between life and death.

Even in those moments, though, many of us don’t even realize what’s happening. As Lovato says, we think we can easily walk away and quit because we “know our limits…” but that’s just part of the false narrative inside our heads.

We don’t just convince ourselves that we’re OK, though. We convince everyone else, too.

As Lovato sings, “I told you I was OK, but I was lying.” While people have their individual reasons for lying, I personally felt extremely ashamed of myself and feared what others would say if they knew about my choices. I already felt isolated and scared — I didn’t want to risk losing the few people I had by my side if they didn’t understand.

I think that’s the biggest issue surrounding addiction: misunderstanding.

People facing addiction don’t deliberately choose a path of pain and destruction when they start, and they don’t keep engaging in addictive behaviors because they relish in their demise. People who battle addiction are human beings who simply “pray[ed] for better days to come” and fell into their addiction of choice because they just wanted to “wash [the] pain away.”

As people listen to “Dancing With The Devil,” I hope they can do some serious soul searching and really take in the message behind the song.

For those who currently deal with active addiction or live in recovery, I hope Lovato’s words help you feel less alone. For those who don’t live with their own addiction but know loved ones who do, I hope this song gives you some insight into the battle that goes on inside your loved one’s head. In my opinion, “Dancing With The Devil” perfectly describes the spiral of addiction — and it may be one of the most important songs Demi Lovato has ever shared with the world.

Screenshot via “Dancing With the Devil” music video.

Originally published: April 5, 2021
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