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California Sober – Is It Real and What Does It Mean?

The buzzword for this week is “California Sober,” or for those that aren’t native to the state, “Cali Sober,” because not many people born and raised in the Golden State actually ever use the term “Cali” except in jest or when singing songs about it.

The term California Sober is gaining traction after Demi Lovato used it to describe herself in a recent interview with CBS Sunday Morning about her current recovery situation.

It seems fitting that this new sobriety terminology is popping up as a trending search in the middle of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week.

When asked in the interview about her current recovery status, Lovato responded by saying, “I think the term I best identify with is ‘California sober.”

Cali Sober

So, What Does California Sober Mean?

It turns out there isn’t an “official” definition of California Sober, although there is an entry on it in Urban Dictionary, so it must be a real thing.

We Googled California Sober and found quite a few recent articles from the past few days and only a handful that were a year or two old, so it might still be taking root. Fiona Apple came up several times related to an interview describing her replacement of alcohol with marijuana a while back.

Most of the addiction professionals and therapists we asked hadn’t heard of it, although some did roll their eyes at the mention of it.

After digging deeper, we found slight variations in the interpretation of the meaning, or ways that people approach California Sober as a sobriety lifestyle. The oldest article we found was by Michelle Lhooq on Vice and she may have been the person to actually coin the term.

Several Variations

Some people consider going California Sober as a way to stop using alcohol and all other drugs except occasionally marijuana. The accepted amount and frequency of smoking pot or eating edibles will vary depending on whom you ask.

Others say it’s okay to smoke weed and use psychedelics because they (psychedelics) are enlightening, not addictive, and aren’t typically taken on a daily basis without a break. Psychedelics are also used for spiritual healing, which is essential to the goal of recovery.

There are some who consider alcohol use okay when going California Sober, yet that almost seems to defeat the purpose since another aspect of this behavioral approach involves adopting a healthy, or healthier lifestyle than the one people struggled with while deep in party mode or addiction.

It does make sense that people would attach California to a lifestyle change away from alcohol and other drugs, only to be replaced by weed or edibles and healthy living.

After all, California legalized medical marijuana way back in 1996 and the state has been the home of wheatgrass and other health trends for as long as anyone can remember. All that sunshine and fitness gurus might have something to do with it too.

California Sober

Is California Sober a Feasible Addiction Treatment Method?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are approximately 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States. That doesn’t include the number of addiction support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and all the others.

The two main schools of thought regarding addiction recovery are based on 12 step vs. non 12 step treatment models. For 12 step programs, the guidelines are fairly rigid and all forms of drug or alcohol use are forbidden. In this approach, total abstinence is the standard.

For treatment centers that utilize a non 12 step rehab approach, the rules vary widely, with some considering abstinence as the only way to recover, while others are less strict and recognize that improving a person’s health and well being while kicking their worst addictions to the curb is the ultimate goal.

Each Person is Different

Because each person is affected by addiction differently, and there are so many ways of achieving sobriety, the true nature of addiction and recovery should really be examined on an individual basis.

This is why a cookie cutter approach to treating each person using the same methods as everyone else often fails.

If a person has a ten-year addiction to alcohol and they can’t function or get out of bed without a drink in hand each day, replacing alcohol with weed to get their life back under control might be considered a successful intervention.

Or consider the person with a heroin addiction that has hit rock bottom and finally makes it into treatment and gets clean for the first time in years… is it okay for them to smoke pot or have edibles after they complete treatment as long as they don’t ever revert back to heroin?

It’s impossible say if it’s okay to imbibe just a bit in a new substance after treatment since each person has different triggers and responds in a unique way to a variety of substances.

This type of debate has been going on in addiction circles since before all of us were born and will probably continue long after we’re all gone.

It’s highly doubtful that the vast majority of addiction treatment centers today would consider adding California Sober to their menu of therapy methods for helping patients get clean and sober.

But in ten or 20 years after there’s a body of evidence suggesting it might be appropriate and effective for some types of addiction, who knows.

Psychedelic drugs like LSD, mushrooms, MDMA, Ketamine and others have been illegal and considered dangerous by law enforcement agencies for decades. Yet today, they are on the forefront of new mental health treatment therapies.

Who Does California Sober Work Best For?

California Sober might just be a 15-minutes of fame buzzword for a strategy that many people have been doing for quite some time now.

It’s probably a hot topic for those who are sober in recovery but want to try using some type of substance to relax and unwind, as long as it’s not their addictive drug of choice they recovered from.

In reality, people who are in recovery and sober should do their best to stay that way without interfering with whatever works.

For others who want to get healthier and cut back on too much drinking or partying in general, this might be one way to accomplish it, as long as it’s done in a holistic way, combined with eating right, exercising, and only occasionally using edibles or smoking marijuana.

Dry January is an attempt to stop drinking for a month at the beginning of every new year.

Sober Curious is a movement by millennials and others to cut back on drinking and finding alternatives to waking up with a hangover in the morning.

There are plenty of people who still drink heavily, and many have actual addiction issues. At the same time, there are scores of others who are simply tired of being sluggish at work and spending a pretty larger portion of their paycheck at happy hour.

If practicing a California Sober lifestyle can help those in recovery as well as others just looking to cut back, that might not be a bad thing.


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Alcohol Poisoning vs A Hangover

Dry Drunk Syndrome

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