Cali sober — or California sober — refers to people with substance abuse who no longer drink nor partake in most drugs … except smoking pot. The Cut explores that some people who qualify as being Cali sober abstain from everything except marijuana and even psychedelics. For the sake of keeping it simple, this article will stick to the idea of just smoking weed as an approach to recovery lifestyle.

But first, the ground rules

It is important for me to set some boundaries for the sake of my own recovery and integrity before I go on. I know definitively that if I pick up a drug or a drink that it’s a short trip back to heroin for me. I have tried “just smoking weed” or “just drinking socially.” For me, those concepts don’t exist. I personally do not think that someone who is smoking weed is considered “sober;” however I also do not judge someone for finding a possible solution that works for them. I just want to see a person happy and healthy. Whether it’s Smart Recovery, Cali sober, Celebrate Recovery, MAT, do your thing!

And please, don’t run out to pick up a dime bag to experiment with being Cali sober after reading this article or because you watched Demi Lovato’s docuseries, “Dancing with the Devil.” It is amazing that she is living a lifestyle without heroin, and hopefully, it works out for her! But most experts are agreeing … this practice of being California sober is not being sober at all.

Dancing with the devil

Patrick Cronin, addiction specialist with Ark Behavioral Health, participated in a recent Distractify article to offer his expertise on the subject. He explained that this particular lifestyle could have lasting negative repercussions on someone’s overall sobriety. While people smoking weed and abstaining from other drugs may think they have compromised a happy medium to manage their addictions, it could lead to more relapses than recovery.

I commend Lovato for dissuading others from following her journey themselves. People are going to pay closer attention to her because she is a celebrity and therefore is inevitably perceived as a role model with large influence in today’s society. Lovato said on the CBS Morning Show in March 2021:

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. I am cautious to say that, just like I feel the complete abstinent method isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody, I don’t think that this journey of moderation is a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody, too.

California sober is trendy … for now

Just like the “sober curious” trend in 2019 — where people chose to party less — Cali sober has come into the limelight. There are so many wellness and marijuana gimmicks that pop up on the scene, how do you know what to even trust? The Internet of Things is a double-edge sword bringing scams and misinformation more readily to the table … personally, I go to resources I trust with track records that speak for themselves.

It’s the sticking to the traditions for me

The two most well-known 12-step programs of sobriety are keeping their integrity and not speaking on the subject. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous do not offer any views on outside causes or recovery tends in order to take away from their primary purpose: to help alcoholics stay sober. Do these organizations really need to promote their opinion on the matter though? It’s already in their literature. One of the largest component of being sober is abstaining from drug and alcohol, so do with that as you will.

At the end of the day, no matter what program you’re in or what trend you’ve hopped into, it comes down to you and your High Power (or just you if that isn’t your forte). Ask yourself: What are your motives? Are you acting on reservations? Your life may be manageable, but are you happy? Healthy? Could you better version of yourself? Just food for thought.


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Alexandra Ashe
Alexandra is a sober woman who loves animals, writing, nature, horror movies, fitness, and self-improvement. After suffering a relapse in late 2016, she revamped her lifestyle and has been sober since March 2017. She is also the CEO and founder of Kinkatopia, which is the only kinkajou-specific organization in the world. Alexandra literally lives and breathes kinkajous — in addition to working a full-time career, taking care of her health, and giving back to the world in other ways. She is a woman on a mission ... the Mother of Kinkajous. Follow Alexandra’s articles to relish her experiences staying sober and running a kinkajou sanctuary. There is never a dull moment, that’s a promise. Kinkatopia.org

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