California Sober


Drinking alcohol with friends in California.

The term California Sober was made popular by Demi Lovato when she released a song with the same name. In her documentary, “Dancing with the Devil”, Demi Lovato mentioned that she uses both marijuana and alcohol in moderation and labeled this activity as being California Sober.


What is California Sober?


Contrary to traditional sobriety, which involves abstaining from all drugs or alcohol, California Sober advocates a moderate use of marijuana and alcohol. This lifestyle is based on the belief that drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and opioids do more damage and are more likely to be misused and abused.


When it comes to marijuana, 19 states have legalized adult recreational use according to USNews, and that momentum is expected to carry into more states. That means there is more choice when it comes to going California Sober.


Why California Sober Isn’t Recommended


California Sober isn’t medically proven, and there are no clear criteria or standards. While one individual may use alcohol and avoid marijuana, another may take shrooms and avoid alcohol. In addition, using in moderation can mean something different to different individuals. For example, when an individual drinks frequently, they can build up tolerance and what they believe is moderation can slowly lead to excessive drinking.


While abstaining from drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, or opioids is good, that doesn’t mean using alcohol or marijuana in its place is the right solution. The inherent dangers of continuing substance use of any kind make it difficult to endorse - alcohol and marijuana use are still addictive.


The consequences of marijuana and alcohol addiction are similar to those of other drugs, including:

  • Isolating to use alone.

  • Missing obligations like work or responsibilities at home or school.

  • Legal issues (ie., DUI, domestic violence).

  • Concerned loved ones, estrangement of family members caused by substance use.

  • Hospitalization attributed to consumption.

  • Minimization of use and denial


Because the term California Sober is loosely defined, it becomes easy to shape the lifestyle into anything an individual likes. This is dangerous for people with substance use disorders because part of addiction is the rationalization of substance misuse. If there is constant change in your definition of recovery, it can lead to regression and relapse.


Even Demi Lovato no longer endorses California Sober and now praises an abstinence model of recovery.


Alternatives To California Sober


It is important to stop and consider if your substance use is an addiction. How do you know when substance use has turned from a relaxation method or social activity into a substance abuse disorder? Below are several warning signs:

  • Not able to stick to limits

  • Drinking or using more than you planned or intended

  • Increase in tolerance - meaning you need more of the substance to achieve the desired effect that you’ve had in the past

  • Using in situations that are hazardous - for example, drinking and driving

  • Continued substance use regardless of negative impacts - for example, problems in relationships, spending too much on alcohol, or health problems


If you think this might be an addiction, or you want to know if you need help for an alcohol problem, call and schedule a screening assessment with an addiction specialist.


If this is not an addiction, there are several alternatives to California Sober.


Other Activities


Instead of trading one substance for another, try other activities that can be similarly rewarding without substance use. Engaging with literature, journaling, meditating, and incorporating regular physical activity.


Mindful Drinking


Mindful drinking is not about quitting alcohol or going dry, instead it’s being aware of why and how much alcohol you drink.


Sober Curious


Sober Curious means an individual chooses to avoid alcohol for personal or health reasons by experimenting with sobriety. It encourages individuals to live a sober life and explore the benefits and the challenges.



Want to hear about California Sober from those that have traveled the path to sobriety? Listen to the Sober.Coffee podcast with Mike and Glenn, sharing stories of experience, strength and hope in recovery.



If you or a loved one need help with substance abuse or addiction, Care Addiction Center can help you along every step of the way. Call our Illinois rehab today at 630-402-0144.