Demi Lovato’s ‘California sober’ label is pissing off sobriety & recovery experts

Demi Lovato has been giving a lot of interviews recently to promote her four-part documentary, Dancing With The Devil, which has already begun airing on YouTube. In those interviews, Demi has told some heartbreaking stories of being sexually assaulted and her struggles with drug addiction and her significant mental health issues. In those interviews, Demi has described her addiction to and recovery from hard drugs, and she says that she now uses alcohol and marijuana in moderation, because booze and pot were never her big issues. She called it “California Sober” in her CBS interview:

In the documentary, Lovato says that she still consumes alcohol and uses marijuana, saying she’s “been smoking weed and drinking in moderation.” On CBS, she termed it “California sober.”

“I think the term that I best identify with is ‘California sober’. 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,” she added on CBS Sunday Morning. “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.”

“I also don’t want people to hear that and think that they can go out and try having a drink or smoking a joint, you know? 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. Because it isn’t for everybody. Recovery isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You shouldn’t be forced to get sober if you’re not ready. You shouldn’t get sober for other people. You have to do it for yourself.”

“I’ve learned that it doesn’t work for me to say that I’m never going to do this again. I know I’m done with the stuff that’s going to kill me, right? 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. I had it drilled into my head for so many years that one drink was equivalent to a crack pipe.”

[From ET]

I think the “California sober” branding is perhaps throwing off some people. Most programs do encourage or force a total prohibition on all substances, regardless of what your specific addiction is for – if you’re addicted to Oxycontin, most rehabs will say that you should quit drinking and smoking pot as well. Sobriety is sobriety and all of that. On one hand, I understand what she’s saying and her perspective – alcohol was my issue, but I think if I smoked pot right now, I wouldn’t suddenly want or need alcohol and the “slippery slope” wouldn’t really exist. But sobriety experts disagree with all of what Demi’s saying:

Demi Lovato’s “California sober” lifestyle isn’t sobriety at all, according to Ken Seeley, an interventionist and trauma professional. After the 28-year-old singer revealed that she’s not completely sober following her 2018 overdose, she used the term “California sober” to describe her current lifestyle. For Seeley, though, who considers the term “California sober” to mean using drugs or alcohol “in moderation,” anything short of complete abstinence cannot and should not be considered sobriety.

“You might not do heroin, but you may smoke pot. But the reality here [is that there] is no moderation for people that suffer with addiction,” he told ET. “… You can’t just turn it off.”

Seeley, who’s been sober himself for 31 years, takes offense to the term itself, too. “I think the term ‘California sober’ is quite disrespectful to the sober community,” he said. “I know a lot of people that work really hard to hold their abstinence and fight for their lives in recovery and to bring up this new term, ‘California sober,’ is so inappropriate.”

Seeley thinks “making up” the term “California sober” is not only inappropriate, but also dangerous. “It could kill millions of people by letting them know that it’s OK to use in moderation… To tell people that they could be sober and use in moderation is almost criminal, because I guarantee you if that takes off, people will die thinking that they’re California sober when there is no such term. There is no such thing,” he said, adding that continued use of alcohol and marijuana is “nowhere near sober.”

[From ET]

I kind of understand Seeley’s perspective too, because for a narcotics addict in recovery, wouldn’t booze and pot be triggers? It’s not that you’ll suddenly “replace” your narcotics addiction with alcohol abuse, but when you’re drinking and high on pot, you would be more likely to backslide or use narcotics if you already have an addiction. I’m also seeing comments from addicts in recovery saying that “California sober” is demeaning to their standard of sobriety. Hm.

164743049_459522528649988_4753847885558252652_n

Photos courtesy of Demi’s IG.

Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

109 Responses to “Demi Lovato’s ‘California sober’ label is pissing off sobriety & recovery experts”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Annaloo. says:

    Oh Demi. Her life’s story is one huge struggle bus. Good luck on her getting to 100% sober, but there are no such things as shortcuts with addiction problems. Very irresponsible.

    • Sammy says:

      I agree. She’s an addict period. Drinking and smoking weed is not sober. Either of those can lower her inhibitions and make taking hard drugs ” just this once” so easy. She hasn’t hit her bottom and that’s very sad and scary.

      • Mariposa says:

        I listened to part of the doco yesterday, and that is exactly what she described. One day she had a drink, and by that NIGHT she was shopping for drugs from her ex dealer who arrived at the party she was at with a duffel load of drugs! I’m not sure how soon after her OD happened, it may have been a few days or a few weeks, I’m not sure. But, the downward spiral was extremely fast and pushed on by drinking.

  2. Jumpingthesnark says:

    Why use a term like this? She could just say that she is not sober but is off hard drugs (ie the truth). This term sounds like she is trying to have her cake and eat it too. I can see why actually sober people are uncomfortable with it.

    • Gruey says:

      I’m alcohol free but I would consider smoking pot every once in a while I guess. I never have though and I would never dare call myself sober if I was boozing. I’m very VERY skeptical of people who say they drink in moderation. The actual medical definition of moderation is 5 oz of wine for women, or one beer or one shot. Not no alcohol 2 nights per week, 2 big glasses 3 nights a week and bottomless drinks on the weekend (which describes 90% of “moderate” drinkers I’ve ever known).

      • Beem says:

        When you look at the actual definition medically (in some studies including a Harvard) moderation means 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women a day- which means a total of 7 drinks for women and 14 for men.. that seems like a lot to me- for someone who is an occasional drinker- 1 a week if that. No judgement for those that do but just dislike the term moderation.

    • yeperz says:

      I just got lucky to get sober before (1) unregulated rehabs took advantage of insurance covered substance abuse programs and (2) marijuana became labeled as “medicine”. Let me be clear, I voted for the study of medical marijuana, and STILL feel derivations are superior to opiate addiction.
      I didn’t go to any rehab, back then they were fewer & expensive. AA is free of course (a buck a meeting) and I found a sponsor who “had what I wanted” and we had an equal work commitment. I got sober in the same town I was a drunk in- I just switched friend groups. It wasn’t that hard to leave a big gaggle of dystfunction.
      There is no such thing as California Sobriety, in fact I do feel it’s a confusing and damaging LIE. To monetize on false hope is kind of cruel. This is a deadly disease, maybe a California and world wide disease. Let’s market the reality. UGH

  3. Watcher says:

    I think she means “Addict Sober.” That’s where you tell yourself you’re sober even though you’re still using.

    Usually people are smart enough not to tell the press, though.

  4. Veronica S. says:

    I mean, I think they’re right, but I also think Demi is advertently giving us a window into how hard sobriety is in an industry like Hollywood. You have to imagine with all that money and access that the drugs flow easy, right? Coke, weed, alcohol? I’d expect that everywhere, at every party. There’s a reason people like RDJ took so long to clean up and kept spiraling. So of course, she picks “California sober” because temptation is everywhere. Not sure it’ll work for her, but I’m also not surprised it’s harder than it would be outside of that exclusive lifestyle.

    • FYI says:

      Yeah, but guess what? Pilot say the same thing. “It’s so hard because of my unique situation.” So do nurses & doctors, politicians, stay-at-home parents, academics, ad infinitum. If you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll find it.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      There’s actually a really strong network of sober people in the industry. There are a lot of people that like to party, but if sobriety is your thing, there’s a lot of people who live that way too. Some for health, some because they are recovering, but it’s a lot of people who are sober.

      When I lived in a tiny midwestern town, drugs and alcohol were everywhere too. My boss at a bar and grill used to pressure me to do coke with him as I was cleaning up at the end of the day.

  5. MM2 says:

    In the recovery community, California sober has meant that you abstain from all forms of alcohol (hence the sober part) and all drugs, except for pot (hence the California part). Marijuana has been called the entrance drug & some consider it the exit drug as well. Many people use marijuana in the early parts of quitting drinking because that can definitely kill & debilitate you, even if Demi thinks it can’t, and then they taper off everything, or just keep using only pot.
    Demi including drinking alcohol in moderation is not using the label correctly, which has been a hot button issue for a while, although not unheard of, but it’s not what she’s doing.

    • Becks1 says:

      oh I didnt realize it was an actual label, I thought it was just something she made up. Interesting.

      • MM2 says:

        It’s definitely a pattern that people use & frustrating that she likely does know what it means, and is using it improperly for herself. Alcohol is the substance with the most deaths as a direct result of use & can kill you if you have severe alcohol use disorder & quit cold turkey.

        Ignoring the “sober” part of California sober is pretty deft.

    • Singhsong says:

      This! I’ve heard that term used expressly in reference to people who are alcohol free, but use pot. Addiction and recovery looks different on different people. All of it is hard. I wish her the best.

      • MM2 says:

        So true. I am for any reduction in use, it’s all progress & everyone’s journey looks different.

      • sassafras says:

        Same. If she were my loved one, I’d feel better with her using pot and alcohol than the hard stuff. It’s all so hard, but if her mental health is better with the edges rubbed off, then at least pot isn’t going to kill her. *I AM NOT A HEALTH/ SOBRIETY EXPERT*

    • yokoohno says:

      Yeah thanks for posting this @MM2, when I first saw california sober I thought she was only smoking not drinking.

      I kind of think of myself as cali sober, I’ve been sober from alcohol for 3 years now but not from addiction, for health reasons. I also now use cannabis daily for pain management and do not ever get high from it anymore (sadly). So it is sober living for me even though I have cannabis, and I would resent someone telling me I’m not. However, as I don’t suffer from addiction I generally don’t partake in the sober/recovery convo. It is nice though to have a label to explain, especially with realizing how entrenched drinking is in society, so I was kind of liking the cali sober term but I get that it’s complicated.

      I wish Demi lots of luck! I appreciate her honesty and hope she is able to find a sobriety that works for her.

    • yeperz says:

      Sober 25yrs & never heard of “california sober”. The pot sober thing has only been around since the advent of legalized pot, “medical marijuana” ya’ll.
      I’ve heard of “marijuana maintenance” said in a joking, kind of “side eye” way. I avoid those types in meetings.

  6. Anastasia says:

    As a therapist, I don’t hate this. Demi is going with a harm reduction model, which is pretty new school in terms of addictions work. There’s a lot of work based on the 12 step model, which is really black and white, and doesn’t fit into 3rd/4th wave techniques. Most addictions work sees the addiction as a pathology, and not as a symptom of of a larger problem, or as a coping skill people developed to be able to make it through whatever crisis or stressor they’re working with in the moment.

    I do hate the term California Sober, why can’t she just say she’s no longer using hard drugs or using them to abuse levels?

    • Amelia says:

      I have a doctor friend who does work in addictions and has been in recovery themselves for decades, and would agree with you. They believe that the 12 step model doesn’t work for everyone and can backfire for some people, who need a harm reduction model. I also know a bunch of doctors who are very against the harm reduction model, but their objections don’t seem to be based on science, they just are morally opposed. In contrast, my doctor friend who is a proponent of harm reduction actually cites the research and science that backs it up.

      • Ann says:

        That’s interesting. I don’t think a doctor should be basing any medical opinion on “morality.” Drinking alcohol isn’t immoral, but drinking too much of it is harmful and can cause you to do bad things to yourself and others. If a harm reduction model is working for some people and helping them limit their drinking, then why set against it? Just as with any health issue, the same treatment doesn’t always work for everyone.

        I have nothing against twelve-step programs, but I think the sole reliance on them over so many decades has really blinkered some people. Not everyone who drinks too much needs to quit cold turkey in order to manage the problem. Some just need to drink less, to the point that they are not harming their health with alcohol, getting drunk, driving under the influence, etc. If they can manage that, then good for them.

        Now, I am not saying it is the right approach for Lovato, given what she’s been through. I only mean in general, I am all for harm reduction as a tool/method in situations where it is appropriate.

    • Jensies says:

      I’m a therapist as well and I’m glad you’re speaking up, because I feel the same. Harm reduction is accepted as a very successful model in recovery for some folks, though it’s not at all accepted in AA or those types of place. I also want to point out that addiction to one substance does not mean a person will have the same reaction to others. Particularly when we’re talking about opioids and coke and weed. Those all target different receptors in our brain and it’s very possible to be totally fine with light use in one and not be able to use others at all. It’s all very individual.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        Small correction – harm reduction is NOT a recovery model. It’s not. The premise of harm reduction is to basically keep addicts alive until such time, if any, they become sober. It is not a model for sobriety or recovery. It’s a stop-gap measure aimed at reducing the fatalities and damage that come from addiction. For example, allowing those who inject drugs to get clean needles – it’s not about saying injecting drugs is okay or can be done in a healthy way. It’s about trying to keep addicts from getting HIV or other blood born pathogens. Harm reduction is not a path to sobriety or recovery, its about keeping people alive until they’re ready to get sober. Big difference, and one a therapist should acknowledge.

      • Jensies says:

        @Sam the Pink In my experience, it’s not true that harm reduction is only used as a stop-gap and not as a recovery method. It depends on what your definition of recovery is and recovery does not only equal total sobriety for everyone. We need to stop these binary definitions of recovery, they hurt and alienate way more people than they help.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        Jensies, that’s not correct. Even advocates of harm reduction do not define it as a recovery model – because it’s not. I have never met anybody who works in addiction care who thinks that continuing to use substances is good for you, or can be done in a “healthy” way. Heroin is pretty lousy for you. Are there people who manage to use it and not have their use get out of control (like Carl Hart)? Some – but most develop some kind of dependency. Harm reduction by its very name implies that harm is inevitable with drug use – that’s why it’s called “reduction” and not “elimination.” There is no safe level of substance abuse. Period. We don’t tell people who only have a little bit of cancer left if their bodies that they’ve recovered from cancer – they’re doing a lot better, but they’re not out of the woods yet. We can celebrate people with addiction who are moving towards recovery and celebrate those little steps, but recovery happens when they are no longer using.

      • Jensies says:

        @Sam the Pink we’re going to have to agree to disagree, I guess, because we’re working with different models of recovery. I don’t think complete sobriety from all substances is reasonable or attainable for all people. And I’d rather people move from serious heroin use to methadone or Suboxone, for example, then enforce complete sobriety as the only option. You do you tho.

    • Jill says:

      Agreed. Lots of research out there that the 12-step programs aren’t the only way. Nothing in life is one-size-fits-all!

    • alsf says:

      I agree. Complete sobriety, at least in the U.S., is often not founded on science. Very few other approaches have been accepted or practiced until recently. People and addiction are not identical, and people’s recovery from it does not have to be either.

    • yeperz says:

      Funny how therapists want to chime in on “recovery theory”- how about listen to ppl w ACTUAL life changing long-term sobriety?

    • Dlc says:

      I am glad someone brought this up. The science behind the 12 steps is not what people think it is. I think it’s overwhelming popularity in the US vs other science backed methods is a morality thing, and based on our puritanical background.

  7. TheOriginalMia says:

    I can understand why they are pissed. When I heard she was still drinking and basically denying she was clean, I knew she was still an addict. Like Ben, when he was still drinking past rehab, an addict isn’t truly clean until they stop drinking and drugging. I wish her the best, but I’m still concerned she may relapse.

    • Sigmund says:

      I think she’ll relapse again. I hope I’m wrong, but she sounds like she’s in denial and that never leads anywhere good with addicts.

      Some people can drink or use minor drugs (like pot) in moderation, but addicts can’t.

  8. Becks1 says:

    This documentary sounds heartbreaking, she’s been through a LOT.

    I drink alcohol, but no drugs of any sort, including marijuana – I would never call myself any type of sober, because I’m not. I’m not sure why she cant just say, “I still drink and I smoke pot sometimes” rather than making up a new term?

    • MM2 says:

      There are two things: clean & sober.
      If you use alcohol & not drugs- you’re clean, but not sober.
      If use any drug of any kind & do not use alcohol – you’re sober, but not clean.
      If you drink & use drugs- you are not clean & not sober.

      • FYI says:

        I don’t agree that “sober” means using drugs but not drinking. I know many people in recovery, as well as addiction specialists, who don’t see it that way at all.

        My only point is that those are not agreed-upon definitions.

  9. Steph says:

    I saw the interview and was shocked she drinks and smokes, considering what she went thru when she relapsed the last time. When I say “shocked” I mean no judgement by that btw. If she is fine with drinking and smoking, then that’s great. I really just wish her the best and hope she’s ok.

  10. Humbugged says:

    Chyler Leigh has been California Sober for 20 years .Her big problem was taking a shit load of drugs,never went to NA but did in throught going to church and she got clean of that but she still drinks

  11. Brubs says:

    I usually have no patience for Demi, but on this issue I just don’t think we can say what is right for her if we are not there walking that path with her.
    I don’t think she made the decision of not staying 100% sober alone, probably there are people who support her on that. She was very careful to say that just because this may work for her it doesn’t mean it will work for everybody. The same logic applies for 100% sobriety. We see so many people relapsing and putting this enormous amount of pressure on themselves over every substance and it helps some people but not everybody.
    I think I agree with her that there isn’t a “one solution for all’ and thankfully she has the means to explore different paths to her recovery. I hope this doesn’t end up hurting her. I also hope that if she ends up relapsing again people don’t use it against her.
    I saw somebody commenting on this the other day saying “she is going to end up dead” and it was such a horrible thing to say.

    • sassafras says:

      Exactly. If Demi was one of my people and the choices were (a) go for strict sobriety but sign up for a lifetime of trauma, effort, expense and dangerous relapses or (b) go for some booze and pot and be generally healthy and alive, I’d support her choosing (b). I don’t understand all that brain science stuff but I understand the difference between alive and dead.

  12. mellie says:

    I really, really wish her the best of luck, but I also really wish she hadn’t used some chic sounding term to describe that she’s still potentially abusing substances. It sounds like she’s trying to trademark something….or am I just completely naive and this is already a trademarked term?

    • Talia says:

      It’s not trademarked but the term California or Cali sober has been around since 2016 according to Urban Dictionary. It means only alcohol and pot. She didn’t invent it, she’s using the phrase in its commonly accepted meaning and I think the reaction to her doing so is unfair. She’s accurately describing the state of her sobriety (or lack of it) using a term that is common in the area where she lives.

      Whether or not she is fooling herself may be another matter. I don’t have any expertise in treating addictions.

      • Mellie says:

        Thank you, I had no idea… clearly. I wish her the best. When my girls were young we went to see Demi and the Jonas Brothers in concert. My girls just loved her.
        These young stars pay a hard price for fame sometimes. I wouldn’t wish it for my kids.

    • yeperz says:

      You can read the urban dictionary all you want, I’m an actual sober person 25yrs.
      Cali sober isn’t a “Thing”. Marijuana maintenance is for ppl who just can’t give up pot, but don’t drink or do heavy drugs. I’ve never heard of sober as ppl who can smoke pot AND drink moderately.
      I HAVE heard of ppl who went to rehab and now drink & smoke a bit. These ppl aren’t really addicts tho, but maybe had some epiphanies about cause & effect. For actual addicts I’d suggest AA. Some ppl just feel to fancy for AA. Mostly that’s called “terminally unique”

  13. OriginalLala says:

    I hope that whatever choices are being made about her addictions/recovery are being made by a diligent team of experts and not by hanger-ons and sycophants who don’t have her best interests at heart. I wish her the best, addiction is such a beast.

  14. Christine says:

    Not a fan of Demi at all, but I think it’s unfair to nitpick her on this. Recovery expert or not, they’ll never know what it was like to grow up and still be in the public eye and the pressure that comes with that.

    • yeperz says:

      Whatever keeps a person alive. I’m not judging the woman, I’m sure she has a good heart, but seems she wanted to market herself as sober and it didn’t work out.
      Why not market herself as a party girl? Ppl love that. Many celebs went that route. Katy Perry hung on to her love of the substance and she’s awesome. Just be yourself.

  15. souperkay says:

    I believe in harm reduction first and foremost with addiction. Abstinence does not work for everyone, so for those that cannot abstain, they deserve acceptance, and safety. If Demi cannot abstain, but is also finding regulation through use of marijuana and alcohol, she deserves acceptance for this as well as safe procurement. Safe and guaranteed procurement can alleviate many issues that people who use substances face that drives more substance use.

    I believe that all drugs should be decriminalized and safe procurement should be a priority. The book “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari covers how much of what is practiced about addiction is wrong.

    • sa says:

      “I believe in harm reduction first and foremost with addiction. Abstinence does not work for everyone, so for those that cannot abstain, they deserve acceptance, and safety.”

      This. I’m not going to claim to be an expert on addiction, but people are not one size fits all for anything and so complete abstinence may be the best solution for 99% of people, but there might be some outliers to that. I don’t know if it’s a good long-term solution, but if it’s what Demi needs now, to keep her from going back to harder drugs, then I wish her success and health.

    • Helen says:

      YESSSSSSS HARM REDUCTION ALL THE WAY!

    • Ang says:

      Since every body is different and reacts to substances differently, one-size fits all approaches do not seem to work. I, for example, can not drink alcohol even moderately because it just does not work for my body. Ever. It will always get out of control. Now that I know this I stay away from alcohol at all costs because I know what it will do to my life. That said, other benign things (for me) like weed are not even in the same ballpark with what alcohol did and would do. If this works for her, that’s great, but there will always be a risk of relapse with your choices.

  16. Jennifer says:

    My father was an addict, and one of the biggest problems for him was being told “never again” regarding drugs and alcohol. “Never” is a very long time. “One day at a time” is something people can handle, but “never” can be problematic for some people. That idea gave him such anxiety that when he did slip up he would freak out and drown his emotions in more substances, setting off a full relapse. I believe if he had been taught that one slip up wasn’t the end of the world and that he could start over again, it would have made a difference for him. So I’m not actually against the idea of telling yourself that you might slip up and that’s ok, and that’s what I think she’s saying here. “California” is always code for “relaxed,” and “California Sober” could definitely mean a more relaxed attitude towards slip ups.

    • Jen says:

      Jennifer, this makes sense to me. I’ve heard other people in AA/NA say the same although I also know many say it’s saved their lives. The thinking of focusing on success and improvement aligns more with SMART Recovery and personally just fits me and the world I live in more. If alcohol (in moderation) is a trigger for me, I can be honest with myself about that. I also think it sucks that some groups won’t even freely allow their members to try therapeutic medications, but I guess I just don’t join those groups. Community is very powerful and a beautiful tool for recovery. I just know mine has to allow me to participate without judgment if I’m being honest and trying and engaging.

  17. Ann says:

    I don’t drink anymore but I smoke a lot of pot. I always smoked a lot though. I replaced alcohol with Lexapro and therapy, which is working well for me.

    I don’t care for this “California sober” term. I wouldn’t ever consider myself sober because of the weed. I am a non-drinker but I have no inclination to call myself sober. I guess I don’t understand why Demi feels this term is appropriate. Feels like she should know better.

  18. Jen says:

    I’m in recovery for stimulant use and don’t hate her for this. I’m whole wide world sober right now, save a couple of literal tastes of wine, because I’m in month four and don’t feel safe. Maybe that feeling will last forever and I won’t go back to my beloved cbd/thc hybrid vape (weed also triggers dopamine, so be careful!) or the 1/2 to 1 margarita or flute of champagne I dream of (don’t want to get buzzed but like the taste and social aspects of celebrating w bubbly). And I’ve told my outpatient rehab counselors I’m not completely sold on it being essential forever to stay 100% sober. They have the same thoughts as a few commenters here. All I can say is that I’m in my late 30s, know what I need to abstain from by any means necessary, but I think we are at very early stages of understanding substance use disorders and addiction. Recovery communities work but not all work for anyone with any issues. I personally don’t know if I’m “an addict” and for my whole future. I know it’s an unpopular take and this is what people in denial would say, but I also know myself, how my use progressed, how it’s ended (completely on my own accord, with support I called in). Idk, everything isn’t so black and white and I also think recovery communities can get really judgy. I can’t wait until we can treat these issues more precisely and effectively.

  19. shaugggy says:

    As an addiction specialist, I can tell you there is a BIG debate/split in the field between abstinence-only people (who also tend to adhere to 12-step programs) and harm reduction people. Some clients respond to abstinence-only, and some clients respond to harm reduction. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER. And no – in the decades of harm reduction research and practice, there is no evidence that alcohol or marijuana are any more triggering than caffeine (another common drug) or prozac – if alcohol or marijuana weren’t your drugs of choice.

    • tammy says:

      I was thinking about caffeine when I was reading this. If she mentioned that she was sober but drank a ton of coffee a day no one would think twice. I am currently dealing with caffeine and sugar withdrawals while I try to cut down/out on both of these. It’s not easy for those two things so I can’t imagine her path to sobriety. I wish her the best, I was a little scared for her when she said she was drinking since it is such a mind altering substance. Too much and she could easily be back on the path to hard drugs.

    • Ann says:

      Thank you for saying this. I am not an expert in any way, but I have been through periods where I drank too much. Not in college, but actually when I was in my thirties and under a lot of stress. I was depressed and anxious and I self-medicated with wine at dinner, then just eventually started drinking way too much of it.

      I never drank during the day, still don’t. I never did anything reckless like drive while drunk. I never even thought about turning to other drugs, so alcohol doesn’t seem to be a trigger for me. I just relied on it too much and had to find a way to cut back. I tried abstinence and that didn’t work for me. So I laid down ground rules for myself, reminded myself what was at stake, and took it one day at a time. That worked for me. I still overdo it once in a while, but in general, harm reduction has been an effective model.

  20. detritus says:

    Demeaning to them? That doesn’t sit well with me. It sounds like a lot of people put a huge value on sobriety, and I mean that it’s seen as ‘best’ instead of ‘what works for me’. That’s not an acceptable stance.

    If her doctors and medical professionals say this is her best option then I’m not going to argue it.

  21. Case says:

    Personally — and obviously I’m not an addiction expert and I know there are different theories on addiction treatment, so this is just my opinion — I think it’s too slippery of a slope. One addiction tends to replace another, so even if she’s off hard drugs and just drinks occasionally, I feel like that can easily turn into drinking every day, which can easily turn into getting drunk every day. IDK. I just don’t get the risk and it feels like it’s letting the addict justify their addiction, in a way?

    I used to really love Green Day and their lead singer is like this. He had a huge prescription pill and alcohol problem, was forced into rehab after a public breakdown, swore he’d never drink again, and now I he’s doing the same thing Demi is while glorifying drinking and drugs in new songs. I had to stop being an active fan of the band because I wasn’t willing to watch that happen again. IMO, people who literally almost die from their addictions don’t seem like good candidates for this kind of “California sober” bs term.

  22. Marla Singer says:

    Can’t be “california sober ” and drive a car so no she isn’t sober and I hope she apologizes for using that Wrong Term!!!! You are sober from hard drugs but drinking is not being sober!!

  23. Caralyn says:

    I was an alcoholic and basically weaned myself off of it, and now I do drink, but only under strict controls: never more than one drink a day, never more than four drinks in a month, and usually I go months without drinking. The all-or-nothing approach where you’re a loser if you have a single drink (so you may as well have 10 and use other drugs too) seems to set people up for failure IMO. If you can learn to control your use of whatever drug you’re using so it’s a pleasure vs. an escape, then I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’ve used this system for 20 years, and I’ve never “fallen off the wagon” that I’ve created for myself.

    • emu says:

      I am happy for you that you’ve found your path and can acknowledge that you are not a failure for enjoying a drink every once in a while. It is important for people to know different paths they can take. I am happy that you have found your balance.

  24. Nanny to the Rescue says:

    I hate the name itself, California Sober, because it sounds like a cool thing, but nothing in this area should sound cool.

  25. ce says:

    I don’t really like that we’re all opining on a personal issue like this. I get that it’s the subject of her documentary, but it’s her business and honestly it’s going to shift and evolve over time as she learns herself and her boundaries better. She’s 2 years into sobriety, it’s very early. I’ll say this: I’m 20 years into eating disorder recovery. I still relapse about twice a year, and that’s very good progress from where I was 20 years ago. So, she can do whatever she needs to do to not die.

    • Jen says:

      Ce, great work on your progress. I imagine it must be so difficult to recover from an eating disorder. Even as a stranger, I’m glad and impressed you’ve been doing that for so long.

    • sassafras says:

      The last year has taught me that this: “she can do whatever she needs to do to not die” is all that matters. Take care of yourselves, people, in the best way you can manage.

  26. Steph says:

    If alcohol and weed aren’t her issue yet she still can’t abstain, I hope she is working really hard on her mental health. She is clearly still self medicating which means she is still trying to escape something.

  27. Chris says:

    This is super tricky because by the very nature of her talking about her addiction struggles publicly, she’s influencing people on recovery. It’s clear she’s trying to say, what works for her wouldn’t necessarily work for others. She’s between a rock and a hard place. Some people have an addiction problem in that if they give up one drug they’ll just switch over to another. So harm reduction just isn’t a realistic option. In my extended family that’s the only kind I’m familiar with. I’m sure that’s not the case for everyone and there are recovery models to address that. I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I don’t think she was trying to be flippant intentionally.

  28. emu says:

    I think she’s coming at it from an evolved and healthy standpoint. I think that if you are addicted to oxy but learn how to use alcohol and weed in a healthy way – it prevents you from “needing” the oxy. Maybe if someone has only ever drank or smoked with oxy then learning how to do it without it is helpful. My two cents. There is a spectrum of recovery and places like AA are not the end-all where you need to accept Jeebus as your lord and savior and abstain from everything for all time. It takes all kinds. And it’s helpful, IMHO, for some addicts out there to know that there are multiple paths to recovery. People who may not seek help otherwise because they’re turned off by the rehab industry.

  29. Kristen says:

    Social worker here.
    Harm reduction is better than nothing.
    But it’s not ‘sober’ and I do think her attempt to redefine sobriety is offensive to ppl who have worked so hard to maintain complete abstinence.
    I also agree with the therapist that her messaging could inadvertently place people in harm’s way, she has a lot of influence.
    She wants to qualify it though so that when ppl see her out and about, they won’t say HEY you’re not supposed to be drinking/using, they’ll say to themselves Oh yeah, she’s California sober!
    I’m nervous for her but I wish her the absolute best.
    Any kind of addictive behavior is very difficult to overcome.

  30. Jen says:

    I could see how sober people in California don’t want to hear this term. Like, why you gotta bring California and us into it? However maybe doesn’t warrant interviewing Ken Seeley for analysis or people dragging her for choosing her own path in recovery. She’s young and I give her some grace on poor word choice, though it’s not horrible for legit California sober folks to note that part.

  31. Jules says:

    She is so thirsty for attention. Girl, take a break and take care of yourself instead of constantly selling yourself out.

  32. K says:

    Her response is the most honest I have ever seen. Looking at you RDJ, Affleck et al. I wish her well.

  33. Lissdogmom02 says:

    I understand the addiction theory. However I know from many relatives smoking pot on occasion after or during quitting drinking is helpful. Now replacing one addiction with another isn’t good, however that’s not how a lot of people do it. Everyone does need to do what works for them. I smoke weed/well eat/drink it in my tea for pain & I use nothing else, it’s no gateway. Studies are showing states where weed is legal prescription pill abuse is declining. Weed needs to be legalized and studied.

  34. Eliza says:

    I’ve been sober for 13 years. And as many people on this thread have said California sober is a phrase people use for occasional pot use. But I am also sober in California for 13 years, and I have to say that it is not the norm. Sober means abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Harm reduction is the moderate use of substances. And although I do believe recovery can look different for different people, I am very very VERY skeptical of what she is saying. It’s really hard to have a normal relationship with altering substances once you reach that level of addiction.

    • yeperz says:

      Exactly. I’m a 25yr sober Californian. Pot is an hallucinogen. Last time I checked we don’t need it to live like oxygen or whatever. Sober is sober. Clean is clean. Demi is a successful beautiful artist with money, platform and support. Substance just didn’t seem to be her “thing”, so how about all the other millions of coping mechanisms???

  35. Lunasf17 says:

    I thought California sober meant that you didn’t drink alcohol but you smoke pot and maybe use Psychedelics from time to time. Reading Holly Whitaker’s book “Quit like a woman” really changed my perspective on addiction and sobriety. For most people the only programs available are AA style programs and they were created by upper class, wealthy white men and for upper class middle white men and don’t really do a good job of addressing the needs of women and other minorities. I think a lot of our perspectives of being sober is through the AA lens and that simply does not work for many people. I just hope it works for her and she can find a healthy balance for herself.

  36. Faye G says:

    I’m shocked that she went through an actual stroke, suffered brain damage, and continues to use alcohol. I’m not so much concerned about the weed, because so many people use it therapeutically these days. Her road to recovery is of course her own, but I wish she wouldn’t try to brand it in a trendy-sounding way. She is influential and has a lot of young fans, I would hate for any of them to believe this is a legitimate form of sobriety.

  37. MarcelMarcel says:

    I have a friend who works at a peer based organisation for drug users. A lot of what she talked about reminded me of harm reduction techniques. And in some cases they are way more effective than abstinence. The results vary because for some it’s a step towards sobriety and for others it’s a pathway for reduced drug use in safer environments. I just don’t think abstinence works for everyone. Especially people who are self medicating for chronic pain or psychological issues.
    I realise that good psychotherapy & psychiatric support is better then self medicating. But not everyone has access to it.

    I’m probably in the minority but I’m okay with what Demi said. Although I think that ‘California Sober’ wasn’t the best terminology.

    The universe is big and complicated. Different things work for different people. Hopefully we can find more ways to support addicts so fewer people die due to drugs like opiates.

  38. Miranda says:

    I’m the daughter of a heroin addict, who grew up in a clusterf–k of a family and began using when she was just 15. She was an intelligent woman who was able to hide her addiction very well, and absolutely no one suspected anything until she confessed after learning she was pregnant. Of course custody was given to my dad as soon as I was born, but my mom was determined to earn visitation rights, and she tried so hard to beat her addiction. Unfortunately, the programs she tried were all “total abstinence” adherents, and moreover, most of them proved to be incredibly judgmental, if not downright cruel. There was no compassion when you slipped up. The worst example I can think of: After my mom admitted that she had smoked pot, a counselor, who knew that her goal was to be able to see me, told her, “you must not love your daughter. She’s going to turn out to be a junkie like you” (to this day, I fantasize about tracking that guy down and shoving my Masters degree, published research, and teaching award in his face). She was obviously already in a fragile state and couldn’t handle the verbal abuse (could you?), so she quit. In a separate instance, she actually ended up using MORE drugs to cope with the hostility.

    Nothing worked for my mom, and she eventually died of an overdose when I was 6. I firmly believe, as do my dad and all my maternal aunts and uncles, that with a harm reduction plan, rather than abstinence, my mom would be alive today. “Never” can be a dangerous word to use with addicts. You’re pushing them towards what seems like impossible perfection, and many addicts, whose minds may already be weakened, will find that so daunting that they just say “f–k it” and go back to the drugs or alcohol.

    In saying all this, I don’t mean to totally dismiss abstinence programs, because they do help many, many people (and I know that most of them probably treat their patients better than what my mom experienced). But they’re not going to work for everybody, and people should know about the alternatives,

    Also, I know this is kinda corny, but I’m so proud of everyone here who has shared their own addiction struggles. These stories need to be out in the open. so we can fight the stigma. Too many people think of addicts as human trash (I blame, in part, that bullshit D.A.R.E. program that so many kids were forced to hear in school). They need to know that ANYBODY can be an addict, not just some shady guy wearing a black hoodie and hanging out in a dimly-lit alley.

    • Shelley says:

      AMEN, Miranda! I was considering sharing a similar story about my daughter’s father. He struggled with alcohol misuse (or alcoholism, if you prefer) and ended up committing suicide because he just couldn’t COMPLETELY ABSTAIN from a beer for any long length of time. He was the sweetest, gentlest, most hard-working guy I had ever known. It’s been a tragedy for us, and I cannot help but believe that had this happened today – and not happened 20 years ago – he wouldn’t have been under so much scrutiny and pressure to PERFECTLY RECOVER.

      • Meghan says:

        I have 3.5 years clean and my psychiatrist wants to “erase” the first 2.5 years because I had major dental surgery and took one round of pain pills, as prescribed and on a strictly supervused schedule. I was so proud of myself at my follow-up when they asked if I was in pain and I truthfully replied that no I wasn’t in pain and did not need another prescription. The pain I had was easily treated with OTC meds. It really hurt me that he wanted to negate the clean time that I had.

        Could I have relapsed? Yes of course. I had actually requested a non-narcotic option but they forgot to call it in so I ended up with narcotics. But I stuck to my schedule and had a plan and a support system and I haven’t had any narcotics in 18 months (and to be honest they made me nauseous and weren’t fun at all).

      • Miranda says:

        I’m so sorry for your loss, Shelley. We lost my mom about 23 years ago, and while that might seem like a long time, I know the pain never goes away, especially for a child. Hell, it barely dulls. It sounds like you still honor and respect your ex’s memory, and I think that’s so important. Those of us who have lost loved ones to substance abuse, whether by accident or if they took their own lives out of desperation, need to speak for them and let the world know that these people aren’t evil degenerates. They’re flawed human beings who need compassion and understanding, Those two simple things have the power to save SO MANY lives.

    • Dlc says:

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. The pressure to be perfect can be crippling.

  39. Elaine Stritch says:

    I got sober with AA about 7 years ago. I tried harm reduction and it didn’t work for me. I keep reading people say that AA is intolerant of slips but my experience in the rooms is entirely the opposite. People share about all stages of sobriety, and I’ve never once in hundreds of meetings heard anyone degraded or demeaned for slips and struggles. I’m sorry for anyone that has had that experience. I’ve also always been encouraged to take what works and leave the rest and My program is whatever keeps me sober without doing harm to myself or others. Generally, it’s just a space for people who share the desire to stop drinking to support each other through their programs as they understand them.

    • yeperz says:

      AA is different from Rehab or councilor programs. Let’s be clear- millions of unregulated ‘rehabs” popped up when insurance started paying for substance abuse.
      Many are just utter SH*T if not abusive.
      I feel so badly for ppl who pd money to these places that gave false hope and or further damage.
      AA works. It’s free. It’s peer related. It meets the work of the addict- the more you give the more you get. There’s no coercion. A person needs WILLINGNESS. 12 steps pre-date these whacky rehabs.

  40. Lulu says:

    I don’t think that California sober will work out for her in the long run. Because when you are drinking or high on pot, your ability to resist the harder stuff while in that mentally altered state goes down. I have a very sad and morbid feeling Demi will die of an overdose one day, like Amy Winehouse and Whitney. Her relationship with drugs and her emotional traumas/addiction issues remind so much of theirs. I really hope I’m wrong though and do wish her a long and healthy life. Please take care of yourself Demi.

  41. Amber says:

    I think Demi is brave to be honest about where she’s at right now. The “California sober” term is silly though. It takes integrity to be so open about something so personal. But I just want her to be safe. I do think she’s correct that abstinence doesn’t work for everyone. In Finland, they have this medication you can take that basically disables the dopamine receptors that are triggered by substance abuse. An alcoholic in recovery can take one of those pills and then drink alcohol without it lighting up the reward pathway in their brain. They still feel the effects of alcohol but without the dopamine rush. This intervention does not stop people from drinking altogether but it greatly reduces binge drinking, which keeps the alcoholic and those around them safer and improves their ability to hold down a job, be a committed parent, etc. I wish we had things like that in the United States. Rehab and 12 step programs and abstinence often fail people for a variety of reasons. Honestly even though I don’t like Demi’s music all that much or anything, I’m just glad she’s alive. I hope she has good people around her who care about her well-being.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Agreed. Revealing abuse and the traumatic impact it had shouldn’t be a situation that’s dismissed as thirst and selling oneself out which….should go without saying post 2017. There are other times when it’s appropriate to dismiss something a public figure is doing as stuntqueening, but this isn’t one of those situations. It was obviously hard but necessary for her to open up about a lot of the things she just did.
      That said, the things she’s saying about her sobriety plan are a little scary, because of what we’ve seen from her so far. Hopefully this can work for her.

  42. Emily_C says:

    SOME so-called “sobriety experts” disagree with what Demi Lovato is saying. They do not have science behind them. It’s really a religious thing, even if they don’t call it that, and it is not scientifically sound.

    Alcoholics Anonymous has a worse recovery rate than trying to quit on your own.

    • yeperz says:

      What are you basing the recidivism upon? I’ve been AA sober, no rehab, for 25yrs. I’ve seen tons of ppl not make it both in “the rooms” of AA & in these whacky pseudo unregulated rehabs. Addiction is a b*tch, but I’ve seen much better recovery for peeps who just did AA w out the freaky rehab thing

      • Dlc says:

        Because AA is anonymous, it has been difficult to do quality scientific studies on. I haven’t personally read one that suggested it was worse than quitting on your own. It obviously works for some. But it clearly has a religious base and does not work for others.

  43. kim says:

    just wish her the best and hope she finds true happiness…it’s what we all want in life

  44. Carmen AIC says:

    She just strikes me as a very unhappy person. With herself, with the way she looks, with her career, with everything. Just the way she’s posing in that photo, she looks so bitter, so…”just take my photo already, I know I look like crap, ugh.” She’s always had a massive chip on her shoulder because she sees herself as the “chubby one” compared to other Disney alumni in her generation, like Selena Gomez. She’s not sober and she never will be, because she dislikes herself too much.

  45. GGRosey86! says:

    I have dealt (and am currently dealing with my son) addiction in my ex-husband for years. Its a family destroyer & I wish everyone who is dealing with this all the success in the world. I’m not sure about Demi’s situation but I think alcohol use in recovery is very problematic.

    • yeperz says:

      Pls read my many posts. I’ve seen it all. You wouldn’t believe the BS things taught in rehabs. Just money making BS. Pure AA works, plus there is Alanon for family of addicts. I’m not a “joiner” or a group person, but AA can be so healing- it takes time to find a responsible sponsor who is healthy and willing to meet the work of the addict. Hang in there! As bad as addiction is, is as good as recovery can become. Sounds corny, but work can create “miracles’

  46. Gah says:

    I’ve worked through my own addiction and have been a sober coach to celebs. I find that 12 steps can help many but for some is a super outdated model that engenders a host of other dysfunctions- sexual, sugar, cigarettes- because of the extreme black and white off the wagon or on rhetoric.

    In general embracing non dualism and growing beyond pat polarity is essential to healing but 12 step programs rely on dualism as the underpinning of the entire philosophy. So moving into places of grey and “moderation” feels super dicey for the proponents of 12 step.

    Regardless I think recovery is an individual journey and I would never attempt to place an external definition of sobriety on someone.

  47. SpiritedMisfit says:

    Recovering alcoholic (5 years sober in June), engaged to a recovering addict. I’m also an addiction recovery nurse. I don’t like Demi’s name for it, but I don’t disagree. She knows her limits, not us. Who is anyone to judge? “Any altering substance is not sober,” is an NA thing. Yes, I’ve been to meetings. I’ve read the Big Book. Do you know why she’s smoking weed? Appetite stimulant? Pain management? Anxiety? Depression? PTSD? She’s already stated she’s bipolar. It helps with mania btw. You don’t know her diagnoses, or why she smokes. “Because it’s legal in California,” isn’t a valid argument. It just means she no longer has to have a medical diagnosis to get it.
    My fiancé, the recovering addict, smokes weed everyday. He uses it for ALL of the above listed reasons. Hasn’t affected his clean/sober time. No, it’s not a one size fits all comparison. All addicts are different. Part of recovery is slipping, but jumping back on the horse, and continuing at getting clean.
    Like I stated before, I’m a nurse that works in addiction recovery. If our guys have mmj cards, we allow it. Our dr allows it. Why? Because a lot of the guys have PTSD, anxiety, and chronic pain issues. Better weed than heroin, fentanyl, meth, an OD, and another dead statistic. Pick and choose your battles.

  48. Alex Schuster says:

    Addiction is a symptom of deep, troubling, traumatic past unhealed, unresolved past wounds. I speak by my own healing experience of alcohol abuse. It took me Nine years to get to the bottom of the issues I was trying to numb combined with amnesia where my brain chose to keep hidden for my self preservation and sanity. Sobriety brought up all those open wounds as they just happened that is the reason most fall of the wagon because you have nowhere to go and must be confronted. I do agree with Demi that is definitely possible to enjoy all those forbidden things in moderation without even trying. Addiction is not only drugs and alcohol it is food, greed, envy, sexjealousy, materialism, fear to be alone, conditional love, racism, misogyny, misandry, hopelessness, abuse towards others and oneself, deceit,ectc.
    Life in general becomes livable and joyful however it is quite is to regress to those all destructive habits. It must be work on a daily basis in order to grow and evolve. Like everything else it is super hard but nit impossible if it were easy we would be riding Unicorns
    Life

  49. Britney says:

    Spoken like a true addict. Rationalizing her need for some behaviors that are considered more socially acceptable by saying at least she’s not smoking crack anymore. That is not recovery or sobriety. I can’t bring myself to watch this documentary because it is CLEAR in all of the promotion that this woman is far from sober and far from healthy.

    “You shouldn’t be forced into sobriety,” sounds like a loaded statement filled with anger against those who’ve reached out to help in the past out of their love for Demi. I lost a brother to heroine, and I know how all consuming addiction can be. She has so much talent, but Unless Demi commits to some serious life changes, I’m afraid I’m going to load CB articles one day and her learn she’s lost her battle to drugs for good.

  50. Samab says:

    Well, I’ve been Cali sober for a long time, I lost interest in cocaine and hard drugs, I still enjoy MDMA once a while. I must say alcohol is the most insidious thing. It’s easy to indulge with it and it slimy comes to be a daily basis thing, and while weed doesn’t affect my functionality, alcohol does. I can smoke weed all day every day and still work and be brilliant and fresh. So I believe Cali sober including alcohol isn’t really how Cali sober should be…it should be just weed to be harmless for yourself. Alcohol’s more likely a hard drug. Easier to become a serious addiction…

  51. Andyl says:

    As someone who used to be addicted to opiates and no longer uses them and is over 10 years sober from using them, I am able to be humble enough to admit that I am still an addict. I now drink alcohol, and it in no way provides a slippery slope for me that makes me want to use opiates ever again, but I do absolutely drink more than I should. Addictive personality is not a one-size-fits-all thing, but you’re kidding yourself if you think that you’re not tempting Fate by substituting one Vice for another without even being a year sober. My alcoholism grew gradually. But I am able to still function, so I rationalize in my head that even though I qualify as an alcoholic by every metric, I don’t have “a problem” (besides the undesired weight gain that comes along with it). Demi is still a very long way away from seeing the forest through the trees, no matter how many interviews we get about her Enlightenment every few months.

  52. Vinot says:

    Words have meaning. Sobriety means abstinence from the category of mind-altering substances that include alcohol and THC.

    There are plenty of ways to qualify her personal take on recovery: “sober from my drugs of choice”, “clean from narcotics”, etc. It is completely irresponsible to take the broad, banner word of “sober”, add “California” to it, and then repeatedly use her platform to put that term out there in the world like it’s a cheat code or a way to be “sober” but not “Sober”.

    I think it’s absolutely important to have these kinds of conversations around recovery, especially when the pandemic has exacerbated the opioid crisis. Cannabis use has been shown to help in recovery and relapse-prevention for many substances, and I understand what she’s saying about the blanket approaches not working for everyone.

    It just seems like this is an easy way for her to claim a title that many people work every day to really achieve or wish that they could do without her having to putting in that level of work.

  53. Caiti says:

    Good for her. The data on the 12 steps is very flimsy. The program can’t, as a practice, keep accurate data because… anonymous. While it works for some l, there are many for whom it doesn’t fit, myself included. My struggle with opiates, dope and coke were directly connected to trauma wounds left unhealed. AA kept me in a vicious cycle of abstinence and binge in a relapse. I was still obsessing about drugs and alcohol 24/7. I was still depressed. I was still suicidal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was sober for a good stretch of years; sobriety played a key role in letting the complex emotions of trauma rise and be felt/dealt with in therapy and with anti-depressants, but marijuana, and mushrooms were game changes in the healing process. I felt shamed by 12 steppers for a long time until I earned my MA in mental health counseling. I am pursuing a PhD in psychology with a focus on using mushrooms, MDMA, DMT and LSD in conjunction with art therapy to support healing in Major Depressive Disorder and extreme cases of addiction. While I know 12 steps has worked for some, and that’s great, for those whom it hasn’t and doesn’t, that’s ok, there is nothing wrong with you! There are evidenced based practices building and just around the corner to provide other avenues for recovery. I do get why people who are 100% sober resent and dislike the “California Sober” branding (staying sober is fucking hard!), but to say D.L. may be responsible for the the future OD and alcohol related deaths of 100s is re-traumatizing (as adolescent incidents of crippling bullying were trauma she was self medicating with drugs), and only serves to shame (a useless feeling which is felt in excess when relapses occurs), and is just cruel. She should be allowed to share her story with context (which she does as she states multiple times that she is not recommending her lifestyle as a cure for anyone), and should be allowed to be authentically her. Why should she lie and say she is sober when she isn’t? Why does she have to be using? Nothing is black and white especially addiction and I feel seen when I hear people like her speak like this. Thanks D.L.