Demi Lovato Announces New Approach to Sobriety

Singer says they're now 'sober sober,' not 'California sober'—meaning no more occasional weed, booze
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2021 8:30 AM CST
Demi Lovato: I'm Now 'Sober Sober,' Not 'California Sober'
Demi Lovato attends the iHeartRadio Music Awards at the Dolby Theatre on May 27, 2021, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Demi Lovato has long struggled with substance abuse issues, leading to a 2018 overdose, and this week, they revealed to fans that they're shifting how they deal with their addictions. "I no longer support my 'California sober' ways," Lovato posted Thursday in an Instagram story, reports BuzzFeed. "Sober sober is the only way to be." Apparent translation: Lovato is no longer going to occasionally partake in alcohol or marijuana, as they suggested in their Dancing With the Devil documentary released earlier this year.

"Telling myself that I can never have a drink or smoke marijuana, I feel like that's setting myself up for failure because I am such a black-and-white thinker," they explained in the film. Some were offended after Lovato initially announced their California sober approach, as it could encourage those who can't control their addictions to continue to dabble in them, notes People. "That's super offensive," TV personality Lala Kent—who herself has addiction issues and went sober in 2018—said in July, per the magazine. "There are people out there who work their ass off to never take themselves out of reality and to never place themselves in an altered state. You know, they don't even, when they have a cold, take DayQuil or NyQuil."

Dr. Akhil Anand, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist with the Cleveland Clinic, agrees with that warning, noting, "You're not sober if you're still using mind-altering substances." He says that some people define "California sober" as sticking to alcohol and pot in moderation, but that "moderation" means different things to different people and can end up sending the person into a backslide. Others, he notes, approach their sobriety by replacing one addictive substance with one that's supposedly less so—such as replacing booze with pot—but he says pot has its own issues and that pot smokers are more likely to pick up the bottle again.

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It's not clear why Lovato suddenly realized that California sober wasn't the way for them, as they even have a song about it, but People notes that the day before their announcement, they put up an Instagram story tribute to their friend Thomas Trussell III, who died of an overdose in 2019. "You're unforgettable," Lovato wrote of Trussell. "We miss and love you." (Lovato says she has brain damage from her 2018 overdose.)

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