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Why Demi Lovato’s California Sober is So Dangerous

Demi Lovato Just Released a Song Called “California Sober”

What is California Sober?

Demi Lovato’s new song, “California Sober,” is about smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol in moderation. Let’s discuss why that idea so dangerous.

In 2018, Demi Lovato was hospitalized for a near-fatal drug overdose. Now, she’s released a documentary on YouTube called, “Dancing with the Devil” and the song “California Sober.” As a result, the world is talking about whether moderation is a treatment option for addicts.

According to the Urban Dictionary, California Sober is a term used to describe a form of sobriety that includes smoking weed and drinking in moderation. In recent interviews, Demi has confirmed that she and her treatment team focus on her drinking and using in moderation as a means of sobriety. While Demi plainly says her method isn’t for everyone, even talking about the idea sends a dangerous message to addicts and alcoholics.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous say that addicts cannot drink or use in moderation. So, where did the idea of moderation and California Sober come from?

Lovato’s California Sober is Similar to the Moderation Management Program 

Moderation Management Failed the Woman who Created It

In the mid-90s, Audrey Kishline founded the program Moderation Management. Ms. Kishline rejected the theory that alcoholism is a disease. She founded Moderation Management as substitute for AA.

The Moderation Management program is built on the theory that those who suffer from alcoholism can successfully drink. I can see how appealing that concept can is. Who doesn’t want to drink or use drugs successfully? But to do so means forgetting the bottoms we hit and ignoring the dangers of addiction. The fact is, drugs and alcohol lead us to prison, institutions, or death.

Demi Lovato’s California Sober is similar to the Moderation Management program. It allows addicts and alcoholics to smoke marijuana and drink in moderation. It is tremendously dangerous idea, and Audrey Kishline’s own story proves that.

After founding Moderation Management and being in the program for many years, Audrey Kishline’s drinking was out of control. She turned away from the program she founded and went to Alcoholics Anonymous for help. Two months later, she killed a father and his 13-year-old daughter in an alcoholic blackout. For the remainder of her life, she struggled with alcoholism, psychiatric problems, and the aftermath of the deadly accident she caused. In the end, she took her own life. It’s a tremendously sad, cautionary tale.

Audrey Kishline Denounced Moderation Management

Read What She Said about Trying to Contol Her Own Drinking

Ms. Kishline publically denounced Moderation Management and came to believe that abstinence was the only path to sobriety. In an interview on Dateline, she admitted that the Moderation Management program was created to give herself a license to drink.

Without AA or a recovery center like Breakthrough Recovery Outreach, it’s easy to believe one drink won’t hurt us. Sadly, that’s just not true. The below quote from Audrey Kishline explains how she came to feel about moderation after trying it.

“I am giving this statement in a public forum because I pray that my story can touch at least one other alcoholic. When I failed at moderation, and then failed at abstinence, I was too full of embarrassment and shame to seek help. In self-pity I gave up and believed my nightly drinking at home could hurt no one but myself.”

Audrey Kishline, New York Times, July 7, 2000.
Advocate of Moderation for Heavy Drinkers Learns Sobering Lesson – The New York Times (

California Sober Forgets the Fact that Addiction is Cunning, Baffling and Powerful

Where Does that Leave Us?

The Big Book and AA both talk about the cunning nature of addiction and alcoholism. We have but a daily reprieve from our disease. We’ve all seen that what happens whe our friends relapse. It is heartbreaking and the effects can be deadly. 

I know someone whose denial got the best of her. She decided to try moderation as a way to treat her addiction. Like Demi Lovato, she thought her problem was only related to the drug that brought her negative consequences. As a result, she felt drinking was safe. It hadn’t harmed her. Yet.

Moderation didn’t work out for my friend. Drinking makes us lose our inhibition and impairs judgement. My friend’s attempt at moderation found her a new and more horrible bottom than her first. Demi Lovato is risking that, too. And, next time she may not live to tell about it. 

California Sober and Moderation Management Enable Denial

For Addicts and Alcoholics, Denial Can Be Deadly

When I was at Breakthrough, a young man left the program before Chris Jacobs thought he was ready. He used once, overdosed, and died. We can get lost that quickly. If we take our eyes off the prize of sobriety for a second, we could be lost forever. The story has stuck with me. I’m so sorry it happened. But, I’m infinitely grateful for the healthy fear it instilled in me.

Kishline’s denial reminds me of a story in the Big Book’s chapter, “More About Alcoholism.” In that story, we read about the man who poured vodka into his milk, thinking it didn’t really count. Of couse, it did and his alcoholism progressed until he stopped drinking.

People who believe in Moderation Management and California Sober say Kishline’s story shouldn’t be used to prove that their program doesn’t work. After all, she was an AA member at the time of the accident and the time of her death.

But what if she had gotten sober instead of founding Moderation Management? She could have stopped drinking, found sobriety, and freedom. Maybe the two people she killed would be alive. Maybe she would.

So, What Does Moderation Mean for Addicts?

Exactly What Demi Lovato Says It Does – A Dance with the Devil

Alcoholism and addiction are diseases that impact the way we think. Trying to drink without going to far is a mental mind game we can’t win. After all, we all have thoughts that compromise our sobriety. Here’s one of mine:

When I had four years sober, I needed surgery. I was prescribed medication and had someone give them. One day after I’d recovered, I got the pills from the bathroom and put them on top of a cabinet. Because I had gone to rehab, AA, and participated in an aftercare program, I had the tools to stop my relapse before it happened. Those pills went down the toilet. I did not.

With the best preparation, any drink or drug has the ability to change our thinking. Addiction and alcoholism are progressive diseases that get worse over time. California Sober is not a viable option and to practice it is to dance with the devil.

Demi Lovato had multiple strokes and was in a coma, but believes she can manage her drinking.. That alone is proof of how cunning and baffling the disease of addiction is.

There is A Solution

Abstinence Doesn’t Mean Losing Something

As a newcomer, I grieved the loss of drugs. I didn’t know who I was without them. But, I did know they weren’t working for me. I was sure they would kill me if I didn’t stop.

The first few months, I did what Breakthrough Recovery Outreach teaches every patient. I trusted the process. It wasn’t always easy, but it was ALWAYS worth it. It still is.

You can find your best self in recovery and you won’t need alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings. Work the Twelve Steps and find the joy you deserve. You’re worth it.

Please comment below if you would like to share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you.

If you or someone you love needs help, Breakthrough Recovery Outreach Will Throw you a Life Preserver

Take it and you won’t believe the miracles that will happen

Call us at (770) 493-7750 or Contact Us by email and let a compassionate member of our professional team help you.