What Is California Sober And Is It Right For You?

What is California Sober? The term “California Sober” became well-known following Demi Lovato’s March interview on CBS Sunday Morning.

The artist revealed at the time following their almost fatal opioid overdose in July 2018, not being totally sober had been beneficial for them. 

But now Lovato has a different perspective. In December 2021, they posted on their Instagram account renouncing their “‘California sober’ ways” and said, “Sober sober is the only way to be.”

Let’s find out why and decide whether you agree or disagree with it.

What is California Sober?

what is california sober

So, what is “California Sober” exactly? It refers to a form of sobriety that allows for the consumption of certain substances, typically cannabis or psychedelics while abstaining from harder drugs or alcohol. 

In a Cali sober lifestyle, individuals may choose to use substances that are considered less harmful or have a lower potential for addiction compared to alcohol or harder drugs.

Advocates argue that this approach allows for a more flexible and harm-reduction-oriented approach to sobriety.

However, critics express concerns that it may still pose risks of substance abuse or hinder true recovery for individuals struggling with addiction.

Why Is Being California Sober So Controversial? 

controversial california sober

First of all, a lot of individuals have probably been adopting these lifestyle choices for a while now; they just go by a trendy new name these days.

However, the idea of California Sober may continue to gain popularity as more people adopt low- or no-alcohol lifestyles in an effort to live healthier ones.

The concept of being California sober has sparked controversy for several reasons. Traditional models of sobriety advocate complete abstinence from all mind-altering substances, including alcohol and drugs.

Critics argue that allowing the use of certain substances, such as cannabis or psychedelics, may undermine the principles of sobriety and potentially lead to a slippery slope, where individuals could return to more harmful substances.

Additionally, concerns have been raised about the potential for individuals to rationalize and justify substance use, hindering the process of true recovery from addiction.

The fact that these recovery paths are not equal and linear is one of the reasons the Cali sober lifestyle can be such a contentious topic.

Does Being California Sober Work?

does california sober work

Some cannabis enthusiasts assert that the California sober lifestyle encourages them to drink less. But cannabis isn’t always a safer option to replace alcohol, even though it might work for certain people.

It’s important to define some objectives if you’re considering being Cali sober. When you reflect on your usage of drugs or alcohol, ask yourself these questions:

  • Has using drugs ever had a detrimental effect on my health, mental health, or social life?
  • Do I utilize it in a compulsive or automatic manner?
  • Is it difficult to quit once I get going?
  • When I stop using, do I get cravings or experience withdrawal symptoms?

If the response to any of these questions is “yes,” it’s a sign that you may need support. Because substance abuse is complex, each person should receive customized treatment.

The best course of action if you’re worried about your drug or alcohol usage is to get support from your doctor, counselor, family, or addiction specialist.

Is California Sober Right For Me?

california sober right for you

Are you among the many people who use alcohol as a coping mechanism or to simply dull the pain? If you’re reading this, you may be reflecting on your connection with alcohol and seeing how it affects your emotional state. 

You might want to look into the California sober trend if you reside in one of the states (as well as Washington, D.C.) where marijuana is legal for recreational use.

First, make sure you are aware of what is permitted by reviewing the cannabis legislation in your state. If it’s an option for you, this could be a chance to experiment and see if it helps you unwind and relax at the end of the day.

If this is your first time experimenting with marijuana, you may start out carefully and prevent any kind of severe side effects.

One of the numerous benefits of legalized marijuana is that you have complete control over your experience because the amount and quality of the product you buy are rigorously regulated. 

Are There Benefits To Being California Sober?

california sober benefits

Even if you have a good relationship with alcohol, you may still realize that you rely on your nightcap a bit too much to ease your stress or that it’s a little more difficult to get to that early-morning workout the morning after you’ve had a drink.

Many people find that using marijuana eliminates the negative effects of alcohol, making it a sensible alternative when they want to unwind without having to worry about getting a hangover.

Here are some potential benefits of being California sober that you may have considered:

  • It could be a starting point for rehabilitation or a useful tool.
  • It might help you reassess your connection with drugs on a case-by-case basis rather than as a totality.
  • It might make the change easier.
  • It can help you abstain from the drugs that are hurting you the most. 
  • It can allow you to use certain substances for various purposes while still seeing yourself inside a recovery framework. For instance, taking cannabis to treat persistent pain. 

You are free to set your own guidelines for becoming Cali Sober; the key is to discover what brings you the most joy and toss off the labels.

What Are Mental Health Professionals Saying About California Sober Living?

Opinions among mental health professionals regarding California sober living are diverse.

Some therapists and counselors support the harm-reduction principles behind this approach, emphasizing the importance of tailoring treatment plans to individual needs. 

However, others express concerns about potential risks, questioning whether allowing any substance use might hinder the process of true recovery. It highlights the ongoing debate within the mental health community about the most effective strategies for addressing addiction and promoting long-term well-being.

Here are some insights from various sources:

Bill Blaber, CARC, CRPA, says that the idea that people who follow the framework are irresponsible about their drug use is a common misconception. He is confident that Cali sober strategies are well within the boundaries of harm reduction. Throughout his work, he has noticed with clients that what really matters for success is having a solid foundation and a clear direction.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Evan Espinosa, PsyD, a member of the leadership team at Recovia, states that, “while being Cali Sober has advantages, it can also present challenges compared to other methods of abstaining from dangerous substances. The answer is no to everything because, unlike when you’re merely sober-sober, you actually have to conduct a lot of in-depth research on your own cravings, triggers, general abilities, and how you are sustaining progress toward your goals”.

According to psychiatrist and addiction specialist Akhil Anand, MD, here are the disadvantages of consuming marijuana:

  • difficulties with learning, focus, and short-term memory.
  • temporary impairment of your ability to move and make decisions.
  • reduced drive to do tasks that are meaningful to you.
  • psychosis and paranoia, both short- and long-term.
  • anger, both short- and long-term, sadness, anxiety, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping.
  • permanent bronchitis, lung damage, and potentially different types of cancer.
  • addiction problems when you experience tolerance, cravings, and even withdrawal symptoms with time.

However, even some who question the advantages of being Cali sober, such as MJ Gottlieb, co-founder of Loosid, the online recovery community, agree that it may still be a useful tool in helping individuals understand their addiction as long as they are looking for the underlying source of the problem.

Some actual alcoholics are reaping tremendous benefits from being California sober. 

california sober alternative

Cali Sober: Is Marijuana Actually a Safe Alternative?

For those who can practice moderation, a Cali Sober lifestyle might be useful for damage reduction. Although it still has a high potential for addiction, marijuana use is significantly less risky than taking harsher substances. 

With marijuana, overdosing is practically impossible. It is often regarded as a more “acceptable” type of substance use because it does not carry the same risk of bloodborne infections as intravenous drug use.

Since marijuana is legal in many states, breaking the law is no longer a factor for people who use it.

It’s important to note that the concept of California sober is somewhat subjective, and the specific substances and rules can vary from person to person. It’s crucial for individuals considering this approach to carefully evaluate their own situations, seek professional advice, and be aware of potential risks associated with substance use, even if it is perceived as less harmful.

If you think you might have a unhealthy relationship with alcohol or drugs, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline.

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California Sober FAQs

What does the term California sober mean?

California sober refers to a form of sobriety in which individuals abstain from harder drugs and alcohol while potentially allowing the use of substances like cannabis or psychedelics. It’s a more flexible approach to recovery.

Who invented California Sober?

Author Michelle Lhooq first used the term “California sober” in a piece that appeared in Vice magazine. Lhooq talked about her personal experience of only using psychedelics and marijuana as drugs. The term gained popularity in recent years and was notably used by musician Demi Lovato to describe their personal approach to sobriety.

Are there specific substances allowed in California sober living?

There is no universal rule for specific substances allowed in California sober living. It typically involves abstaining from alcohol and harder drugs, with the potential inclusion of substances like cannabis or psychedelics, but the specifics vary from person to person.

Can California sober be a stepping stone to complete sobriety?

For some individuals, California sober can serve as a transitional phase towards complete sobriety, allowing them to reevaluate their relationship with substances. However, whether it acts as a stepping stone depends on the individual’s goals and journey.

Can being California sober help with mental health issues?

Some individuals report using substances like cannabis to manage mental health issues within the California sober framework. However, it’s crucial to consider potential risks and benefits and consult with mental health professionals for guidance.

Is California sober suitable for everyone in recovery?

The suitability of California sober varies from person to person. It depends on individual circumstances, motivations, and the ability to maintain a healthy relationship with substances. Consulting with healthcare professionals can provide personalized insights and help determine if it aligns with one’s well-being and recovery goals.