Demi Lovato defends her ‘California sober’ approach to recovery

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read

Demi Lovato is defending her "California sober" approach to recovery.

After the "Dancing With the Devil" singer marked 4/20 by posing with a bong on Instagram, she defended using marijuana and alcohol in moderation after her near-fatal drug overdose. She first revealed she's not 100 percent sober in her YouTube doc and faced criticism, including from her inner circle. However, she says it's "working for me," and added that the "only criticism I need is from my treatment team."

Discussing the most important songs of her career on the Zach Sang Show, Lovato, 28, included "California Sober," off her new album, saying it's "extremely important because that song represents an alternate path to the recovery that I've been taught the past 10 years of dealing with this stuff."

Of the controversial approach, which she interprets to allow for some drinking and pot use, she made clear: “It’s not saying that this works for everybody. It's saying that that other solution isn't a one-size-fits-all solution and there's options."

She added, "It's just about identifying what works best for you and going forward with that."

(Screenshot: @ddlovato via Instagram)
Demi Lovato marking 4/20. (Screenshot: @ddlovato via Instagram)
(Screenshot: @ddlovato via Instagram)
(Screenshot: @ddlovato via Instagram)

Because people define the non-medical term in different ways — from abstaining from alcohol and drugs, minus marijuana to being able to use psychedelics — she was asked to share her interpretation.

"The thing is, I didn't make up this term, right?" she replied. "I just heard it, and was like: 'Oh, that sounds green and applies to me.' That's what I just kind of went with. But I think that different people have different meanings for it. So it might be moderation to some people. It might be only natural things to some people."

However, she made it clear she's not getting into the nitty-gritty due to the constant criticism she faces whether she's talking sobriety or, say, frozen yogurt marketing.

“For me, I've decided that I'm probably never going to discuss the parameters surrounding my recovery and what that looks like," Lovato said. "Because when I do get into details with people, it just kind of opens myself up for more scrutiny than I need."

She continued, "The only criticism I need is from my treatment team, and if what we're doing right now is working for me, then I'm gonna keep it between me and them."

Lovato opened up about her 2018 near-fatal overdose in her Dancing With the Devil YouTube doc, saying in the weeks leading up to it, she was using meth, heroin and crack cocaine. The night she overdosed, she had used heroin laced with fentanyl, which triggering a heart attack and three strokes. She had between five and 10 minutes to live when her assistant found her.

In the doc, she admitted that after her overdose, she used heroin again. She said in the doc, "I've learned that shutting the door on things makes me want to open the door even more. I've learned that it doesn't work for me to say 'I'm never going to do this again.' 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."

Lovato's manager Scooter Braun, friend Elton John and former assistant (who found her when she overdosed) all expressed concern in the doc about her being "California sober." 

Braun said, "the whole moderation thing isn’t something I totally agree with." However, John, who marked 30 years of sobriety in July, was franker, "Sorry, if you drink, you're going to drink more. If you take a pill, you're going to take another one. You either do it or you don’t."

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