Recovery Center Blog

What Does it Mean to Be “California Sober”?

Written By Recovery Centers - May 12th, 2022
What Does it Mean to Be “California Sober”?

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that causes adverse effects on each aspect of an individual’s life. From drug possession charges to experiencing life-threatening overdoses, addiction is a dangerous condition.

Recovery from addiction requires a combination of medical detox, behavioral therapy, and peer support groups. Additionally, experts in the field recommend individuals remain completely abstinent from drugs and alcohol to maintain long-term recovery.

Substance use disorders affect everyone, including celebrities like Demi Lovato. This singer and actress released a documentary about her struggles with addiction and her journey in recovery. As a result of Demi’s documentary, the “California sober” method of addiction recovery began to rise in popularity.

What is “California Sober”?

People who are California sober abstain from using “hard” drugs and use alcohol, marijuana, or both in moderation. Rather than being rooted in absolutism like traditional forms of sobriety, this approach is based on harm reduction.

Individuals who are California sober might:

  • Only use marijuana once in a while
  • Only drink alcohol once in a while
  • Use both marijuana and alcohol in moderation
  • Use marijuana as a replacement drug and a form of self-medication

While being able to indulge in marijuana and alcohol consumption every now and then may sound attractive, attempting to do so can become dangerous. Oftentimes, individuals who suffer from addiction have a difficult time using substances in moderation. If a person who was addicted to heroin attempted to only smoke weed or drink alcohol, they are at risk of returning to heroin use or developing an addiction to marijuana and alcohol.

Does Going California Sober Work?

Individuals who struggle with severe substance use disorders have a hard time moderating their substance use.

To explain, the main reason that individuals develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol is that they begin to crave the substance. Their mind tells their body that they need more of the substance, causing them to continually abuse a certain drug. Because of this, attempting to use marijuana and alcohol in moderation while recovering from an addiction to another drug puts individuals at a higher risk of relapsing.

Demi Lovato claimed that being California sober was working for them, however, they ended up suffering from a relapse after some time. Once Demi Lovato attended addiction treatment, they decided that being fully sober was the only way to prevent themselves from relapsing again.

It is important to note that harm reduction is helpful for some individuals. If someone is not ready to get sober, attempting to become California sober could allow them to realize the benefits of quitting problematic drug use. In other words, if this is used to help an individual transition from addiction, to moderation, and eventually full-blown sobriety, it could be beneficial.

The Risks of Being “California Sober”

In most cases, attempting moderation as a means of addiction recovery only results in a relapse. It is important for individuals considering this form of moderation to understand the risks they face.

The common risks of choosing this route in recovery include:

  • Relapsing back to the drug of choice
  • Developing an addiction to marijuana or alcohol
  • Replacing substance addiction with a behavioral addiction (sex, gambling, shopping, etc.)
  • Not developing the proper coping mechanisms for stress and using alcohol or marijuana to soothe uncomfortable emotions
  • Being unable to find a support group that approves of being California sober
  • Having to return to an addiction treatment program

While many people think using marijuana is harmless, research has shown that this substance is addictive. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration,

“Approximately 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted.”[1] With that being said, individuals who suffer from addiction and attempt to use marijuana in moderation are at an increased risk of developing marijuana use disorder.

Why is Abstinence the Best Option for Recovery?

While the idea of abstinence can be overwhelming, most individuals in recovery from addiction choose abstinence over moderation. Oftentimes, individuals recovering from addiction attempt to use substances in moderation, only to relapse and end up back in their drug rehab facility.

It is important to note that relapsing after a period of sobriety from a specific drug becomes extremely dangerous. Many people attempt to use the same amount of a substance that they used when they were addicted to it. Without having a tolerance to the drug, they end up suffering from an overdose.

Because of the risk of experiencing a relapse and overdosing, choosing moderation can be dangerous.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Abstinence from drug use has been linked with numerous short and long-term benefits including decreased mortality, improved medical status, reduced crime, and increased employment.”[2]

Find Help for Addiction Today

Making the decision to get sober and attend an addiction treatment program can be difficult. Similarly, trying to choose the right drug rehab facility to attend can be confusing and overwhelming. Thankfully, programs like Recovery Centers are here to help you and your loved one find a treatment center that is right for you.

Contact Recovery Centers to consult with an addiction expert about finding an addiction treatment program that suits your unique needs.