Going “California Sober” Still Poses Addiction Risks

Have you ever made the same new year’s resolution year after year? If so, you know changing a habit can be very challenging.  Research shows that the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new, better habit.1

Some people in states where recreational or medical marijuana use is legal have tried to replace other drug habits by legally using marijuana.2 Only using marijuana is often called “California sober,” since California was one of the first states to legalize marijuana use.

Unfortunately, simply switching out one drug, like alcohol, with another doesn’t address the underlying causes of addiction and increases the chances of developing a substance use disorder.2

Self-medicating with Marijuana

Research shows that adults who have mood or anxiety disorders are likely to self-medicate with marijuana, especially in states with medical or recreational marijuana legalization.

Unfortunately, using marijuana in this way doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, young adults who self-medicated with marijuana were at significant risk of developing cannabis use disorder.3 The side effects of using marijuana also show that you’re not going to get the peace of mind you’re looking for: people who use marijuana are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and reduced satisfaction in life overall.4

If you struggle with a mental health disorder, whether it’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, or another concern, see a doctor and let them know about it. Your doctor may prescribe medications that treat your symptoms and connect you with the resources you need to manage your emotions in a healthy way.

Marijuana Risks

Using marijuana comes with some risks. Not only can it drop your IQ (and the points don’t come back after you stop using it), there are major health impacts as well.4

Marijuana is addictive, in the sense that you may start using it to calm your nerves and quickly reach a point where you cannot navigate your day without it.4 The fact that today’s marijuana has significantly higher THC levels than marijuana did 25 years ago only makes it more addictive.4 When you’re addicted to marijuana, you use more than intended, try to stop but cannot, and continue to use the drug despite the social and health problems it causes.5

Marijuana also affects brain function, reducing memory, the ability to learn, attention, emotional control, and more.6 Finally, marijuana can cause breathing problems, a higher heart rate, nausea, and more.6

Despite these drawbacks, marijuana use is increasing throughout the United States.7 Even if marijuana use is legal where you live, going “California Sober” is not a sustainable way to treat addiction.

Finding Treatment for Drug Addiction

If you struggle with a mental health concern, such as anxiety or depression, you’re not alone. You’re also not alone in trying to self-medicate, especially with marijuana. In fact, around 50% of people who struggle with substance use also have a co-occurring mental health concern.8

An alternative to self-medicating is seeking out treatment that addresses both your mental health and substance use. This type of integrated treatment has been shown to have far better results than simply treating mental health or substance use alone.9

If you are looking for drug rehab in Orange County, Laguna Treatment Center offers the perfect combination of exceptionally safe medical detox for drugs and alcohol with the highest-quality inpatient treatment. Contact our rehab admissions staff today.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

The Best Place to Recover in Orange County
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Center is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.