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What Does It Mean To Be “California Sober?”

by Suzette Gomez ❘  

What Is “California Sober?”

Have you ever heard of the term “California sober?” It’s a phrase that has been popularized by singer/actress Demi Lovato in a recent documentary detailing her battle with addiction. According to the star, the term means avoiding all addictive substances except “soft” drugs like Marijuana and alcohol. The practice is rooted in harm reduction rather than absolutism. 

People who are “California sober,” also known as “Cali sober,” either moderately use or forgo alcohol and “hard” drugs. A few examples of  “hard drugs” are Heroin, Cocaine, and crystal Methamphetamine. Instead, they use “soft” drugs like Marijuana, LSD, or Psilocybin. Demi Lovato explains it’s a form of “balanced” sobriety that has helped her stay away from harder drugs. Lovato clarifies, “I’ve learned that it doesn’t work for me to say that I’m never going to do this again.” She explains cutting off all substances was “setting myself up for failure because I am such a black-and-white thinker.” Since Lovato’s interview, the term California sober has blown up on social media. Still, does it work? 

Does “California Sober” Work?

Demi Lovato claims California sobriety works for her but is it for everyone? Unfortunately, no, it is not. Exposing yourself to light alcohol and drug use may be ok for certain people while disastrous for those who have struggled with addiction. According to research, people once addicted to a substance that return to drinking or smoking are more likely to relapse. Even if an individual refrains from using “softer” drugs or alcohol, they are likely to backslide. According to the American Medical Association Journal, nearly 50% of people relapse within a year of treatment. 

Staying away, or abstaining, from all drugs and alcohol is necessary for those in recovery. To some, it may seem like absolutism, but in reality, it is the best chance a person has to improve their odds of staying “clean.” The practice of reintroducing “soft” drugs to a person’s system is risky. Both alcohol and Marijuana are part of the 3 most commonly used addictive drugs in the United States. More than 11.8 million people admit to using Marijuana, and about 30% of them have a Marijuana use disorder. Nearly 70% of adults over-consume alcohol, and about 14.5 million are battling an alcohol use disorder. 

California Sober Is Not Medically Proven Or Regulated

Though celebrities rave about being “Cali sober,” it is essential to note that the term is not medically recognized or regulated. There is no way of knowing what 2 different people consider as okay while “Cali sober.” Some individuals use alcohol and smoke weed, while others take shrooms and do not drink. The term is arbitrary with little to no clear criteria or scientific basis. 

Besides being confusing, going “Cali sober” can still lead to a dependency on Marijuana and alcohol. The goal of treatment is to help patients stop drug abuse. By using “soft” drugs, individuals are, in a way delaying true sobriety. Still, medical professionals must do much more research to understand if being “Cali sober” is beneficial for some people.

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