Demi Lovato no longer hides her truth. Last month, the singer and actress, who has been battling addiction for years, revealed that she considers herself “sober in California” – which means she does not completely abstain from substances. This contradicts decades of conventional wisdom in the world of addiction recovery, which argues that recovery means complete and constant abstinence. How often do you see headlines about this or that celebrity celebrating the anniversary of sobriety? Just as we celebrate them, we must also celebrate Mrs Lovato’s restoration, even if it sounds unconventional.
Unfortunately, there has been an attack by ignorant critics of Lovato’s recovery program, which simply shows how far we need to go when it comes to understanding addiction recovery.
Kerfufla started with her new documentary “Dancing with the Devil”
“Yes. I think the term I best identify with is ‘California sober,'” Lovato said in a recent CBS Sunday Morning interview. a little weed. “It’s really not convenient for me to explain to people the parameters of my recovery,” Lovato replied, “because I don’t want anyone to look at my safety parameters and think that’s what works for them, because they may not so”.
Lovato is careful with her words and has clearly thought about the consequences of being a pop star and role model, while being true to herself and honest about her recovery.
But her caution in her words did not stop the haters. One blogger described her recovery as “misguided” and “dangerous.” “I think the term ‘California sober’ is pretty disrespectful to the sober community,” Ken Sealy, a professional interventionist, told Entertainment Today. “I know a lot of people are working hard to maintain their abstinence and fight for their lives to recover, and to bring up this new term ‘California sober’ is so inappropriate.”
Similarly, a People Lovato’s documentary magazine was emblematic of this common misunderstanding of recovery. “Demi Lovato reveals that she smokes weed and drinks in moderation,” But she says it’s not for everyone, “the judge’s headline read. In history, People wrote that Demi Lovato “is not sober.” The article continued:
The singer then said that “she is done with the things that will kill me”, but admits that she still smokes weed and drinks from time to time. Traditionally, in rehabilitation and 12-step programs, recovery is based on complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol, not moderation.
But what is “traditional” is not necessarily right for everyone. There is no shame in restoring heterodox.
The fact is that recovery has as many paths as there are people. As a national lawyer and a recovering person, I learned first hand and witnessed how diverse, creative and innovative our community is. Recovery is defined as “a process of change through which people improve their health and well-being, live independently and strive to reach their full potential.” This means that every individual who seeks relief from substance abuse deserves the basic respect and dignity that we would offer to any other person in recovery from a chronic illness. Instead, Lovato is described by armchair experts as an “alcoholic” and a “drug addict” and who doesn’t know better and can’t be trusted to make healthy choices for herself.
In the same way, moderation is also a path to recovery. Abstaining from some substances while still using others is recovery. Just as complete abstinence is recovery, or the use of drugs such as methadone is recovery. Incorporating wellness tools such as yoga or relying on spiritual practice is also recovery. Why is this so difficult for some people to understand?
Lovato’s recovery is just as valid as mine: zero-use abstinence, supported by a 12-step program. I don’t think her path threatens mine or “sets a bad example.” If nothing else, I think her courage shows that recovery is really for anyone who wants it. The problem here is not what Lovato chooses to do with his own body. She is a 28-year-old woman.
As one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Lovato is used to her body being guarded by strangers. In her documentary, she describes how for years she had no control over her life. Her schedule, wardrobe, finances and even what she ate was dictated and controlled. It’s downright refreshing to watch a woman like Lovato regain control and experience her truth. But it seems that women, especially celebrities, have been severely criticized. They are too thin or too thick, with the wrong shape, too modern or hopelessly out of fashion. They are bad mothers or spend too much time with their families. Not surprisingly, the same assessment applies to recovery. If a woman uses substances, she is lavish; if it abstains, it is hard. There is no middle ground and you know what? I am glad that Lovato is not trying to please anyone but himself with his choice to recover. Everyone has to decide for themselves what “recovery” means and how they want to experience it.
But therapists, medical professionals and other so-called experts make many manual distortions about Demi’s decision to do what is right for her. And yet these are the people who need to know that what she is doing is exactly how recovery support should work. It is not the job of the therapist (or anyone else) to dictate how someone else should live or what guidelines to follow. Instead, they should offer the tools, resources, and support that can help that person live their best life.
In my experience, waving your fingers, embarrassment or criticism do not help anyone sober up. No one has embarrassed me for treatment; I chose to seek help because I finally accepted that my life was worth living, and I met other people who were brave enough to show me what was possible for me. One of these people was Demi herself: when I first met her in 2013 while living in Los Angeles, I was still actively addicted to heroin and lied to everyone about it. Shortly after I met Demi and heard her story, I changed my life forever. I found a path that worked for me. Like Demi, I also went public as a member of the LGBTQ community after sobering up. My identity and the use of the substance were very much related. Shame kept me in the closet for a very long time. If I had tried to please everyone, I would still be sick and hate myself. I may even be dead. But I am not. Today I am alive and happy. I am healthier than ever, engaged to the man I love, and helping to share the inspiration I received from Demi and many other friends.
The sooner we get rid of the idea that zero tolerance, recovery only with abstinence is the only valid way, the sooner we will start saving lives. Hundreds of people die every day from substance-related causes. How many of them would be alive today if they were told there was another way? I am grateful for the incredible variety of recovery paths in my community. Our diversity is our strength. Instead of accepting a “universal recovery” that is dictated by institutions that pathologize and punish people, we need to focus on the individual and ask how we can support them in their unique journey.