Growing up in the intense spotlight of fame took its toll on pop star, Demi Lovato, causing the talented young singer to cope with her highly public life through alcohol and drug abuse. After multiple close calls, she now curbs her addictions through a lifestyle she calls “California sober.”
But…what does that mean, exactly?
Lovato’s rise was nothing short of meteoric! In a single year, 2008, she starred in her first Disney movie (Camp Rock), landed her own TV show (Sonny with a Chance), and released her first album (Don’t Forget). Kids loved her talent and beauty; parents appreciated her attitude and wholesome values. That combination led to international fame…and all its trappings.
Demi was just 18 years old when she entered rehab for the first time in the fall of 2010. Across the next decade, she would wage a very public battle with addictions of various kinds. The struggles of her celebrity status were further compounded by mental health issues and eating disorders. Ongoing self-destructive tendencies led her to abandon her multi-million dollar mansions in favor of rehab centers and sober living facilities throughout Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, her controlled substance abuse only escalated and she suffered a near-fatal overdose of heroin and fentanyl in 2018. She’s spoken openly about the impact her lifestyle has had on her health; she’s suffered strokes and at least one heart attack due to her abuse of drugs and alcohol.
While millions of fans around the world want nothing more than for Lovato to get healthy and continue producing music, that outcome seems unlikely given the songstress’ strategy for dealing with her addiction. In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning in March of 2021, Demi was asked if she was using drugs and alcohol in moderation. Lovato answered:
Yeah. 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. 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.
Beyond being a reference to the title of one of her songs, what does she mean by “California sober”? Why not simply “sober, period”? How does the qualifier of “California” help her?
Only time will tell. Meanwhile, history has shown over and over again just how lethal the rock n roll lifestyle of alcohol and drug use can be. Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Janis Joplin are just a few of the musicians who fatally overdosed in The Golden State trying to be “California sober.”
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