Demi Lovato is leaving “California Sober” behind. In a simple Instagram Story post on December 2, the singer announced, “I no longer support my ‘California sober’ ways.” They added, “Sober sober is the only way to be.”
The surprise announcement came one day after Lovato honored the birthday of their friend, Tommy Trussell III, who died in October of 2019 after battling addiction. Just a few months ago, they also released a new song dedicated to Trussell called “Unforgettable (Tommy’s Song),” with proceeds going to The Voices Project, a self-described “grassroots recovery advocacy organization.”
Lovato got a lot of criticism in March after they declared themselves to be “California sober,” a term that essentially means they were off of hard drugs, but would indulge in alcohol consumption and weed in moderation. “I’ve learned that it doesn’t work for me to say that I’m never going to do this again,” they said in an installment of their Dancing With the Devil docuseries. “I know I’m done with the stuff that’s going to kill me, right?” Lovato was talking from experience. After six years of sobriety — which for them meant living with a sober coach and being moderated constantly, as described in the docuseries — a very public relapse in 2018 resulted in an overdose that nearly killed them.
At the time, Lovato, who has been open about their struggles with addiction and mental-health issues since their rehab stint in 2010, added that they knew the “California sober” lifestyle wasn’t for everyone. “Recovery isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You shouldn’t be forced to get sober if you’re not ready. You shouldn’t get sober for other people. You have to do it for yourself,” they said in the documentary, which also included an interview of Elton John saying he didn’t believe in it. Their public embrace of being “California sober” got a lot of backlash in the press, including from fellow celebrities in recovery. Vanderpump Rules star Lala Kent even called it “super offensive.”
After the negative response, Lovato said that they would “probably never” go into details about their recovery again. “When I do get into details with people, it just kind of opens myself up for more scrutiny than I need,” they said in an interview with Zach Sang while discussing their song “California Sober.” The singer 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.”