Unpacking Demi Lovato's Controversial 'California Sober' Approach To Recovery

Apr 08, 2021
02:00 P.M.
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Demi Lovato most recently shared about her latest recovery journey in an episode of her documentary. The singer expressed that she was 'California sober,' resulting in curiosity.


Demi Lovato was completely sober for six years before her 2018 relapse that resulted in an overdose. The star recalls trying drugs she'd never touched before, just a month after her milestone celebration.

Now the talented performer shares that she is trying a different approach to her recovery. If you are curious to learn, read more to explore Demi's controversial 'California sober' approach to her recovery.

What Does Being California Sober Entail?

When Demi revealed that she was California sober, many people were a little bit confused. The world knows that Demi struggles with substance abuse and has been in recovery since her recent overdose.


Unlike the other times that Demi went into her journey to recovery, she tried something different. Being California sober entails drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis in moderation, which is a harm reduction strategy.


The philosophy of harm reduction focuses on using strategies to reduce the adverse effects of substances. These strategies are achieved by managing substance use instead of abstaining.

People who are California sober need different approaches for their goals, medical and mental health histories. Although the process is controversial, experts confirm that some find this approach effective.

Personalized Recovery


Demi's point when touching on her sobriety is how recovery has to be personalized for each person. She reveals that the abstinence route is not a 'one size fits all' solution; hence it didn't work for her.

"Telling myself I can never have a drink or smoke marijuana is setting myself up for failure because I am such a black-and-white thinker. I had it drilled into my head for so many years that one drink was equivalent to a crack pipe."

Says Demi Lovato

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Although Demi has chosen this path for her recovery, she doesn't recommend that others try it. She explains that it's better to be cautious and pay attention to one's own needs when going into recovery.


The Backlash

Unfortunately, not many people met Demi's revelation with open arms but instead responded with outrage. Addiction experts like Ken Seeley explained why they found the term itself harmful to the sober community.

"I know a lot of people that work really hard to hold their abstinence and fight for their lives in recovery, and to bring up this new term, 'California sober,' is so inappropriate."

Says Ken Seeley


More experts warn that people with addiction diagnoses may risk getting addicted to these 'less harmful' drugs. One likens it to knowing that the Titanic will crash but switching seats instead of leaving the boat.

Although many experts have expressed that they find the approach dangerous, there is some hope. Some experts prefer not to pass judgment but focus on monitoring impact and response to the approach.