Demi Lovato’s struggle with mental health issues has always been out in the open since they entered rehab in 2010. After a successful Disney acting career and the launch of their music career, they’ve had an ongoing public battle with substance abuse and eating disorders. After their diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 2011, they found it gave them answers to many of the struggles they’d dealt with, in and out of the limelight.
Demi believes that “It’s possible to live well, feel well and also find happiness with bipolar disorder,” they told the interviewer in Women’s Health magazine. Of course, as many people with mental health issues know, getting a diagnosis doesn’t magically make the symptoms go away. Demi has continued to be honest with their fans and the media about the ongoing challenges they face living with a mental illness.
In early 2021, Demi Lovato announced they were going “California sober” to deal with their substance abuse problems after having a near-fatal heroin overdose in 2018 which caused them to suffer brain damage and long-lasting health problems as a result. To Demi Lovato, California sober seemed a good way to handle their addiction.
But what does it mean to be California sober?
What Does California Sober Mean?
Although the meaning is rather ambiguous, it’s generally used when someone who’s substance addicted replaces a hard drug with something they consider less harmful — often alcohol or marijuana in moderation. This isn’t a program recommended by mental health professionals but instead a strategy people use to help themselves deal with a drug addiction.
The concept is that if a person has a serious drug problem that could lead to injury or death, swapping that substance out for something they deem safer will be a pathway toward abstinence without having to give up substances altogether.
This rarely works, however.
Why Doesn’t This Method Work?
Although a California sober approach may work for some people, overall it isn’t a healthy or safe way to deal with a substance abuse problem or drug addiction. People who opt for this method perceive this to be harm reduction, a way to swap a potentially life-threatening or fatal addiction for something considered less dangerous.
However, moderation means something different to everyone. Even substances that seem less harmful can still cause serious injury, long-lasting medical effects or even death.
Swapping out one addiction for another doesn’t address the root cause of the addiction, and the person struggling to cope may still have the same mental health symptoms, such as feeling suicidal or self-harming. They may not be able to curb their usage due to their history with addiction and relapse.
Getting proper rehabilitation for a substance abuse problem addresses the physical and psychological addiction at the same time as mental health treatment — something that being California sober doesn’t touch upon.
Many people who’ve tried this method, Demi Lovato included, have since turned away from it in favor of official clinical support.
What Has Demi Lovato Said About Being California Sober?
When Demi reported that they’d started a California sober lifestyle in an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, they admitted they knew it wasn’t a safe solution for everyone. “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,” they said.
They’d originally decided to try this lifestyle after their 2018 overdose left them with brain damage, citing that “You shouldn’t be forced to get sober if you’re not ready” in their documentary Dancing With The Devil. However, in late 2021, they shared an Instagram post declaring they were no longer supportive of the California sober lifestyle and that they wanted to be “sober sober.”
Demi Lovato has continued to share details of their life and how they’re progressing through their addictions and mental illness. But is it right that they divulge these seemingly personal details to the rest of the world?
Why Should Celebrities Talk About Mental Health?
Celebrities are often criticized for sharing their personal lives. But people need to hear that famous icons struggle with mental health issues just like regular people. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma with sharing mental health problems and plenty of myths about what having a mental illness or a drug abuse problem means.
Celebrities are seen as role models who people look up to and admire. As they’re well known, sharing these personal struggles and events in their lives can sway the opinion of their fans and the media. Social media is often seen as having negative effects on our mental health. But famous people often use their online platform to open up about their vulnerabilities, to help others understand it’s okay to ask for support and to encourage people to ask for help.
It’s helping turn the tide on the negative image and judgment people with addictions have faced in the past.
Even if you’re not a fan of a celebrity who’s admitted mental illness, it can open up a discussion about mental health and people may feel more open to discuss their own problems in school, at work and around people in your family and friends group.
If you’re struggling, it can give you hope that you can belong and that mental health problems can affect anyone, even the people who may seem to be “perfect” and “have everything.”
Celebrities are successful people who achieve great things. After all, it’s often why we look up to them. This can prove that, even with a mental illness and the struggles and challenges that come with it, you can still lead a happy, healthy, successful life. Just like with Demi Lovato — after all their struggles, they continue to fight through mental health issues and have a successful career they’re proud of.
FHE Is Here to Support You
If you’re struggling with a substance abuse problem, FHE Health can help. Get in touch with us at (844) 299-0618, where one of our trained counselors can help set up an appointment. Together, we can help you get on the road to recovery.