Demi Lovato’s ‘California Sober’ Sets A Dangerous Example For Those Struggling With Addiction

Demi Lovato’s ‘California Sober’ Sets A Dangerous Example For Those Struggling With Addiction

Demi Lovato says she's "California sober," but that isn't really sober at all.
Christopher Dale
By

Grammy-nominated singer Demi Lovato recently revealed her decision to be “California Sober,” which entails imbibing “moderate” amounts of alcohol and marijuana. Given Lovato’s outsized influence on legions of mostly young fans – many of whom, like the rest of society, have or will develop troubling issues with drugs and alcohol – some members of the recovery community found this news concerning, to put it mildly. As a recovering alcoholic with nearly a decade of sobriety, I am one of them.

No one can diagnose Lovato from afar, and she alone can decide whether she is a full-fledged alcoholic or addict, which demands complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol, but her track record is highly discouraging. Despite being just 28 years old, by her own admission, Lovato has had three stokes, a heart attack and has nearly perished several times during relapses.

Several people close to Lovato, including her manager, Scooter Braun, and the long-sober Elton John, who she has described as a recovery mentor, do not think the path of moderate drinking and drugging is a reasonable choice for Lovato.

Unsurprisingly for someone who drinks and smokes pot while claiming to be sober, Lovato is a walking contradiction. On April 2, she released her seventh studio album, “Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over.” Released in late March, the album’s title track single sees her grappling with not-so-sober sobriety. The first verse:

It’s just a little red wine, I’ll be fine

Not like I wanna do this every night

I’ve been good, don’t I deserve it?

I think I earned it, feels like it’s worth it

By the second stanza, however, Lovato is singing an entirely different tune with an entirely different class of substances:

It’s just a little white line, I’ll be fine

But soon, that little white line is a little glass pipe

Tinfoil remedy, almost got the best of me

I keep praying I don’t reach the end of my lifetime

Lovato’s latest song lyrics simply cannot be squared with her recent public statements. The former sees her starting with wine and inevitably ending up on a crackpipe. The latter sees her (supposedly, anyway) “moderately” drinking and smoking weed with no consequences. Indefensible, right?

Right. Well, unless you cherish individuality over the common good so fiercely that you’re willing to look like a fool to defend Lovato’s incredulous hypocrisy.

Enter leftist stalwart Salon.com. Last week, the site ran a piece from a “recovery advocate” named Ryan Hampton, whose very first words praised Lovato for “no longer hiding her truth.”

“Sadly,” he writes, “there has been an onslaught of ignorant criticism of Lovato’s recovery program, which just goes to show how far we have to go when it comes to understanding recovery from addiction.”

No, Mr. Hampton. While it’s true that the science of addiction treatment is ever-evolving, responsible addicts and alcoholics understand the most important aspect of arresting our incurable, progressive, and potentially lethal affliction. Simply put, the only way to stay clean and sober is to… well, stay clean and sober.

Sometimes complicated issues have gray areas; this isn’t one of those times. While no one can claim exclusivity regarding recovery techniques, no successful recovery program includes drinking and drugging. That’s a harsh, unyielding truth – one that for many, myself included, have an exceedingly difficult time digesting.

Lovato’s laissez-faire approach to recovery, and her latte liberal enablers’ “you do you” cheerleading, make it harder for someone with substance abuse to admit the type of complete defeat necessary for successful, often life-saving recovery to take root.

And let’s get real: considering the source, the people this is affecting are overwhelmingly young. Their demographic is known to have particular struggles getting clean and sober. Following a year when a record 81,000 Americans died from drug abuse, Lovato is telling these young people that the party doesn’t have to be over when, for many, all evidence suggests otherwise.

This is not just another shot in the culture war from an outlet that leans conservative crying foul at the corporate media’s incessant celebrity coddling. I am a lifelong Democrat. Other than being pro-life, my political alignment is in near-lockstep with my coastal blue state roots. I proudly voted for Barack Obama (twice) and desperately voted against Donald Trump (also twice).

This isn’t about politics. It’s about life and death. It’s about the growing number of young people with substance abuse issues who, listening to Lovato’s lunacy, may be convinced that they aren’t really addicts, either. “After all,” they might rationalize, “if a 28-year-old who had three drug-related strokes and a heart attack can handle a little booze and weed, why can’t I?”

The influence celebrities wield is a two-sided coin. With hard drugs, it can be the difference between getting clean and getting dead that is too often a coin flip. Lovato should think about that before she publicly justifies her own highly questionable recovery-related behavior.

The next time she raises a glass of red wine, she might just be inadvertently toasting someone’s death.

Christopher Dale writes on politics, society, parenting and addiction & recovery issues. His work has appeared in Salon, Daily Beast, New York Daily News and Parents.com, among other outlets, and he is a contributing writer for The Fix, a sober lifestyle website. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDaleWriter.
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