California Sober – It’s a Thing

You may not know my neighbor Kyle, but if you have been enjoying cannabis for a while, then you know people like Kyle. They don’t drink anymore and instead enjoy cannabis as their “elixir” of choice.

“Good on ya’, Kyle,” has been the general reaction when I have run across various Kyle’s in my cannabis life span.  No judgment, no explanation needed, just a person who has made a choice on how to enjoy themselves.

But, now, in a world where every-freaking-thing needs a label, the act of choosing cannabis over alcohol is apparently called California Sober, because nobody would ever believe Colorado Sober?

Google it. It’s a “thing.” Demi Lovato has a song called, you guessed it, California Sober that’s centered around her struggle with addiction…

I’m California sober
It doesn’t have to mean the growin’ part is over
No, it ain’t black or white, it’s all of the colors
That I only just discovered, now I’m California sober
California sober

Hey, sugar,

Take a walk on the wild side. 

Sorry. I am not California Sober and will do my best to get back to the point.

In a nutshell California Sober means cutting alcohol out of your life and replacing it with cannabis. Kind of, sometimes, because nobody wants to get labeled or boxed in, but we will get to that part later.

Psychiatrist and addiction specialist Akhil Anand, MD, explains there’s no official definition for this approach to substance use. “The term is ambiguous and kind of a misnomer,” Dr. Anand says. “After all, you’re not sober if you’re still using mind-altering substances.”

Cali Sober, as the cool kids call it, promotes cutting out certain addictive substances and replacing them with alternatives that, in theory, are less harmful.

My wife gave up French fries for a year to see if she could do it.  She didn’t stop eating tater tots, onion rings, or tater skins and did have French fries on her birthday, but in her mind she was French Fry Free.  Since she never actually reads these articles, this is my safe space to use this insane hypocrisy as an example.

Some people call themselves California Sober because they use cannabis in place of alcohol and other addictive substances. Others define it as using alcohol and marijuana in moderation while avoiding other drugs. 

Which by definition is not in fact sober. We won’t do the cut and paste definition thing here, but you get the idea.

Dr. Anand adds, “If you have an uncomfortable or unhealthy relationship with alcohol or drugs, the California Sober approach might sound tempting. But there are reasons to be cautious if you’re thinking of trading one vice for another. “You’re replacing one addictive substance with another,” Dr. Anand notes. “It’s a slippery slope.”

Not being preachy (well … not much), but again if you are reading this then you know we here at Cannabis & Tech Today enjoy cannabis, the culture, lifestyle, people, thought leaders, business owners, and the brands who send the writers samples, all that being said, California Sober is as oxymoronic a statement as “well-paid writers,” “funny republicans,” and “smart Tweets by Elon Musk.”

It’s even too much for us and we are the magazine who brought you Wilfred the Furry Dog as a feature story! We are as open minded a group as it gets, but even this has our Bull Shit Meter about to burst.

Some people can enjoy a cocktail or the occasional dog walker in moderation, for others (and we all know that person),  it’s all too easy to go overboard. “Some people aren’t able to drink moderately. For them, the consequences of drinking can be dire,” Dr. Anand says.

If you’re interested in trying a Cali Sober approach that includes some alcohol, Dr. Anand says it’s important to set clear goals and be honest with yourself. “If you want to drink less, be specific about how much daily alcohol use is acceptable,” he says. “If you can’t stick to those goals, you might need to seek out addiction support.”

We know, (insert Robert Downey Jr. meme rolling his eyes) We know!! You can’t get addicted to cannabis, but you can be over the top annoying, kind of like the friend who must announce to the waitress that they are gluten free at every firkin’ restaurant.

If you get pulled over by the police you are either sober or not, pilots are not allowed to fly planes if they are not sober, it says right on the packaging, “do not operate heavy machinery, drive, or text your ex.” Because if you are using cannabis, you are not in fact sober. It’s killing me to not put the definition right here___.

“Okay boomer we get it, it’s a dumb name! Can we get past that?”

One potential pitfall of California sober is that the definition of “moderation” is defined differently depending on the person. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as consuming three to four drinks or more in a day. There are those who would think that’s a lot, and others who would define that as a warm up.  

Just like anything cannabis related, a lot of this comes down to dosage. I have many friends who micro-dose. They have studied it and manage it with nutrition, the size of the dose, and several other factors to keep things level and in control.

Control. That’s the key phrase. For many people with a dependence on alcohol or drugs, California sober doesn’t go far enough.

“Substance use is complicated, and treatment should be tailored to the individual,” Dr. Anand says. “If you’re concerned about your use of alcohol or drugs, the best thing to do is seek support from your family, your doctor, a counselor or an addiction specialist.”

For Demi Lovato and others who are struggling with addiction and recovery, cannabis is a great way to help calm the anxiety and pain of a possible rebound. We still aren’t tapping the full potential of the plant and dozens of studies have proven the power of cannabis can be helpful for everything from seizures and anxiety to PTSD and writer’s block.

The idea of swapping one “vice” for another isn’t new. Labeling it, well that’s on you. The overarching message to this rant is if you need help with an addiction of any kind you don’t have to go it alone, there is all kinds of help out there no label required.

Demi, take it from here …

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