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What Does California Sober Mean?

Charl Joost
Last Updated: February 17th, 2023

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California Sober refers to people who decide to quit or replace the consumption of harmful drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids, and alcohol with the use of marijuana in moderation.

What is “California Sober”?

what is a california sober

The word “sober” in the term describes someone who refrains from using alcohol or other harmful drugs entirely after a period of substance abuse.

The term emerged as a way of referring to a “California style” of sobriety involving marijuana as a substitute for alcohol. California sober recommends cutting out the use of harmful addictive substances and replacing them with less toxic alternatives

While most people call themselves Cali sober because they use marijuana instead of alcohol or other addictive substances, others say that using alcohol and marijuana in moderation while avoiding other drugs can be defined as California Sober.

Some people who practice a California lifestyle say that using psychedelics such as LSD or magic mushrooms is permitted.

History of the term California Sober

Michelle Lhoog popularized the term and wrote in a 2019 essay in Vice. “According to the Urban Dictionary,” California Sober advocates abstaining from all harmful drugs, including alcohol, and only using marijuana in moderation.

California sober gained further attention when the docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing with Devil was released. She candidly talks about their past drug use and struggles with addiction leading to a near-fatal drug overdose in 2018.

In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning in March 2021, Lovato said that stopping short of sobriety by using only marijuana and alcohol in moderation worked well for them in the aftermath of their opioid overdose in July 2018.

Demi Lovato explained that they are best associated with the term California Sober.

However, she does say that although the ‘California Sober Lifestyle’ practiced by them works for them, it may not work for everyone. She does not think that this journey is a one-size-fits-all for everybody.

Levato now sees things differently. In December 2021, Demi Lovato announced on Instagram that she would no longer support California Sober ways, stating that “Sober sober” is the only way to be.”

History of the california sober

Does California Sober Work?


The lifestyle has become popular as an attempt at harm reduction by stopping the use of harmful substances such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol and replacing them with a less dangerous drug like marijuana.

The thought driving this lifestyle is that drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, or opioids cause more damage and increase the likelihood of abuse. Marijuana, although addictive, does not have the same severe physical and mental health consequences.

Attempting a California sober lifestyle may be beneficial as a form of harm reduction for people who can moderate their use of certain drugs. Marijuana is a more acceptable form of substance use. In addition, the use of marijuana is now legal in several states.

Addiction specialists were concerned about how popular the California Sober Lifestyle had become, arguing that moderation was impossible for most people in recovery from hard drugs like heroin, methamphetamines, and alcohol.

Dangers Of Being California Sober

While a California Sober Lifestyle might sound tempting, there are reasons to be cautious as you consider trading one addiction for another. For example, those who use marijuana claim the approach helps them reduce alcohol consumption.

Addiction specialists claim that when people replace alcohol with marijuana, they are more likely to eventually start drinking again than those who give up drinking alcohol and don’t use marijuana.

Negative Consequences of Marijuana

negative effect of marijuana

Although marijuana is less harmful than drugs such as heroin, methamphetamines, or alcohol, it is still addictive, and continuous and excessive use can cause:

  • Short-term memory, learning, and concentration problems.
  • Impairment of your judgment and motor coordination.
  • Failure or decreased motivation to finish things vital to you, such as work, school, or home responsibilities.
  • Persistent drug cravings.
  • Difficulty in reducing or stopping marijuana use Staying Sober If you are thinking of pursuing a California Sober lifestyle, addiction specialists suggest you ask yourself the following questions when thinking of how you use alcohol and drugs.
  • Has your substance use led to medical, mental, or social issues?
  • When you start, is it difficult to stop?
  • Do you experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms when you’re not using?

California Sober does not go far enough for everyone dependent on alcohol or hard drugs. If your answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above questions and you are concerned about your use of alcohol or hard drugs, it is advisable to seek support from your family, your doctor, or a counselor.

About The Author

Charl Joost

Charl is a trainer, public speaker, and professional writer. While he has been coached to niche down, he has many passions. These include golf, gardening, technology, and a decent cup of coffee or two. Charl loves to learn about new products and tries everything he writes about.

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