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Substance use disorder, which is more colloquially known as drug addiction, is a serious mental...
Actress and singer Demi Lovato has had a difficult road over the last several years. After struggling publicly with drug abuse, they overdosed in 2018—and reached a critical low point in their journey toward sobriety. This year, they went even more public with their battle with addiction after releasing the YouTube documentary Dancing with the Devil, sharing extremely personal details about the aftermath of their opioid overdose and how they moved forward from the tragedy.
Lovato again made headlines, though, by stating that she was now “California sober”—a fairly new concept which entails a different type of sobriety than what society has come to expect. In programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, true sobriety means that a person in recovery consumes zero drugs of any kind—not even marijuana or alcohol. Conversely, “California sober” means consuming addictive substances in moderation, particularly substances like marijuana, which is legal for recreational use in California (and now, many other states).
At the time of the reveal, Lovato commented on their sobriety status by saying, “I think the term that I best identify with is ‘California sober.’ I really don’t feel comfortable explaining the parameters of my recovery to people, because I don’t want anyone to look at my parameters of safety and think that’s what works for them, because it might not.”
Many came forward in criticism of Lovato’s statement—even public figures who are in sobriety themselves. Star of Vanderpump Rules Lala Kent, who is herself in sobriety, spoke out on a podcast about Lovato’s decisions, stating that, “”I don’t like to judge, but I actually think that that’s super offensive. You know, there are people out there who work their a– off to never take themselves out of reality and to never place themselves in an altered state. You know, they don’t even, when they have a cold, take DayQuil or NyQuil.”
Professional interventionist and addictions expert Ken Seeley agreed. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Seeley said that Lovato’s approach was misguided, stating, “[There] is no moderation for people that suffer with addiction… You can’t just turn it off. […] It could kill millions of people by letting them know that it’s OK to use in moderation… To tell people that they could be sober and use in moderation is almost criminal, because I guarantee you if that takes off, people will die thinking that they’re California sober when there is no such term. There is no such thing.”
Today, it appears that Lovato is walking back her decision to be “California sober.” In an Instagram story posted to their account, they wrote that they “no longer support [their] California sober ways” and that “Sober sober is the only way to be.”
Lovato, who even released a song called “California Sober,” did not elaborate on the motivation behind the switch in perspective, though the announcement came shortly after sharing a birthday celebration message for a close friend, Tommy, who they lost to addiction. They released another song called “Unforgettable (Tommy’s Song)”, to honor his life, with lyrics stating in part, “I hope you’re better now.”
Now 29 years old, Lovato is forging her own path in sobriety. While the path is not always clear, abstaining from drugs and alcohol will yield a more successful future in recovery. After speaking out about being “California sober,” and rescinded her opinions about it, Lovato provides a clearer picture for those who may be on a similar path, and her experiences are sure to remind those who are looking to achieve long-term sobriety that, “Sober sober is the only way to be.”
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