Californians who are #CaliSober may be masking hidden addictions, warn experts


A recent topic on the rise across social media and news platforms is the idea of sobriety as a wellness trend, instead of a recovery journey. Terms like ‘sober lite’, ‘Cali sober’ and ‘sober curious’ are part of a spectrum of semi-sobriety, referring to those who adopt this lifestyle as a way to cut down on the intoxicating substances they consume, whether it be alcohol and/or drugs. After experiencing a near-fatal overdose, singer Demi Lovato has recently shared that they identify as ‘Cali Sober’, which has been met with criticism by many, as total abstinence is typically the traditional recovery norm for those with substance use disorders. Additionally, Canadian singer, The Weeknd has reported he is now ‘Sober Lite’, avoiding hard drugs but occasionally consuming alcohol and cannabis., a leading treatment provider for addiction and mental health disorders, discusses the dangers of these semi-sobriety trends promoted by non-medical professionals and how they could lead to many Californians masking an underlying addiction issue for social media followers. It should be noted that some people who choose to adopt these sober habits based off social media influencer posts may not be doing so because they have an issue with alcohol. In fact, there have been articles written about these new variations of sobriety, showing the rise in people swearing off booze for the sake of their health – not because they have an alcohol-related problem. So, where do these trends and recovery strategies intersect?

There is no denying the benefits that comes from reducing or eliminating one’s alcohol consumption habits – from boosting the immune system and improving cardiovascular health to decreasing cancer risks and improving brain function. While there is a stark difference between those who need to get sober and those who want to get sober, social media hashtags tend to conflate these concepts via hashtags such as #SoberLife, #SoberCurious, #SoberAF, and #SoberIsSexy. In a way, these hashtags merge the social media timelines of those on an abstinence-based path to recovery with those who are simply interested in exploring what it’s like to be sober. This can be dangerous for both parties: those on a recovery journey may find these posts insensitive or demeaning of the rather serious issue of addiction, and those choosing to sample sobriety may not even realize they have an issue in the first place.

If you’re questioning your alcohol consumption and are concerned that it could be problematic, it’s advisable to speak to a medical professional before following any advice provided on social media platforms – even if it’s from a prolific celebrity or influencer. Don’t forget that although this information is allowed to be posted on social media, not everyone who shares it has the medical knowledge behind things like addiction, withdrawal recovery and overall health.

Infographic explaining common social media sobriety trends


This approach largely means individuals allow themselves to smoke cannabis and possibly take psychedelic drugs. Most subscribers of this ideology abstain from alcohol though some drink rarely. Cali sober encourages a balanced relationship with cannabis and psychedelics to add to your lifestyle in a positive way, not something that detracts from your wellbeing.


Much like the aforementioned Cali sober, this approach involves small, infrequent consumption of alcohol, however, may include cannabis use. Often, this approach excludes the use of hard drugs too.


This approach to sobriety is based off the individual wanting to experiment with a lifestyle that excludes intoxicants. This is not based off a need to get sober, merely a curiosity to explore a sober lifestyle.