In general, Los Angeles and Southern California’s sobriety lifestyle is way cooler than that of the partier, the casual drug abuser, or full-blown drug addiction.
The recovery process has many external nuances. It has nothing to do with whether you are in rehab or sober living, or whether or not you are working with a sober coach, or simply attending 12-Step meetings on your own. It is about where you are…
Here in Southern California, it is customary to receive celebratory chips in AA, NA, CA, and Birthday cakes for one year and every year after. For example: If you happen to attend a Florida meeting, you are much more likely to see key-tags used instead, and for one year and every year after, you’re celebrating an “anniversary.”
There are thousands of 12-step in-person meetings in Los Angeles County and the surrounding Southern California regions.
If you happen to attend an NA or CA meeting here in Los Angeles, and for that matter you can throw in Orange County and San Diego, there is a good chance it will be 90 minutes long. Other parts of the country you will notice offer almost exclusively hour-long meetings.
There are all sorts of variations, many of which are inconsequential. However, those who live in Southern California, specifically Los Angeles, are well aware of an unavoidable reality that many others are not. Out here in LA, being sober IS cool. That’s right, COOL! It is so cool that a certain percentage of people in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous aren’t actually bona fide drug addicts & alcoholics. Many of them will even openly admit it. I have heard countless stories of someone having to attend five or ten 12-Step meetings as part of a sentence for a DUI or drug case and quickly developed a circle of friends that were unlike anything they had previously experienced; some of these people aren’t addicts. They had gotten in a bit too deep, made a few bad decisions, suffered a few consequences, but they were still a long way from selling their soul to their addiction. We digress…
Los Angeles happens to be one of the nation’s leading hubs for addiction treatment centers & recovery services. As such, many people come here from all over the country to enter a drug rehab facility. As they begin to attend AA or NA meetings, they inevitably happen to see famous people, musicians, and so forth. They quickly learn that we are all equal in these rooms and that anonymity and maintaining this space’s sacred nature is paramount. We attend and don’t tell. Though after some time, as you keep coming back and maybe get to hear them share their experiences, there is a sense of comfort as you come to realize firsthand that underneath that success is just another person who shares your pain and struggle.
Anecdotally, people (especially young people) who come to Southern California for substance abuse treatment from all over the country and abroad end up staying. After treatment, they often transition to sober living and build productive lives here. I’ve seen it happen time and again.
As you begin to make your way into Venice, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Silverlake (all located within Los Angeles County), you begin to see the emergence of a cool and eclectic hybrid. Here you see the sleek, the moxie, the swag, and often beautiful, the cool shades, donning all black or loud colors in retro and latest styles. However, what’s even cooler is the fact that even if you do not rise to this level of coolness, you are accepted and embraced just the same, and that is (add superlative here) awesome! All styles are trendy, all the time. Los Angeles epitomizes diversity, and that reality makes its way to the room’s and (now) “zooms” of sobriety.
Watch out for that nasty traffic; it’s among the, if not THE worst traffic in the world. Just as the power of collective sobriety out here is something of an anomaly, that traffic can drive a man to drinking.
Let’s not forget picturesque Malibu and pristine Pacific Palisades and Shiny Century City, and gritty Hollywood. Here you get a little of everything, the hipsters, the oldtimers, the moms & dads pushing strollers, and even the ones that aren’t cool, again: are still cool. To not be cool is, in and of itself, cool. You begin to reach a certain level of cool to where, hypothetically, the more uncool you may try to be, the actual cooler you ultimately become. It’s called “Runaway Coolness,” basically reaching the point of no return.
What comes to mind, in 2005, working at a high-end treatment center in Malibu, I was responsible for escorting patients to 12-step meetings, and what song was on the radio often? “Beverly Hills” by Weezer. The Cadilac Escalade filled with patients aloud in static-harmony singing: “Beverly Hills, that’s where I want to be, Livin’ in Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills rolling like a celebrity, Livin’ in Beverly Hills.” Sober and healthy fun in motion.
Out here in LA, many sober people work in the entertainment industry, and people who work in the entertainment industry, as you can imagine, are generally quite cool. Yet, those who still drink excessively and use drugs aren’t usually among the cool sober crowds. Often, during long shoots, when sober folks aren’t able to break away for an AA or NA meeting, you’ll see them grab some chairs and have an impromptu meeting; from the actors and directors to the set dressers and grips and the PA’s and everyone in recovery. Because whether you are the lead actor or the guy who sweeps up after wrap-up, sitting in that circle, we are all equal. Labels and titles are gone.
If you are a recovering drug addict or alcoholic and maybe struggling to meet cool people and do cool things, come on out here to Los Angeles, or even Orange County, or San Diego, or anywhere in Southern California. Remember this though, you don’t have to be cool to be sober out here; you don’t even have to want to be cool to be sober out here, but you may come to find that sobriety is more enjoyable when you are around cool people doing cool things. Beware though, you might wake up one morning and come to find that through this sober journey you inadvertently became cool, or even worse, super cool.
Allow us to contextualize a postcard of the elements within the environment. Yes, it’s warm and sunny. Approximately 300 days a year, so if you’re not outdoors? You’re a hermit of sorts. You have the beaches, the parks, the sites, and hiking trails from the Santa Monica Mountains, opposite Baldwin Hills. Yes, you can surf and ski on the same day—if you’re so inclined. To the chagrin of Gym’s companies…you don’t need to pay for one. They’re so many parks to exercise at, and it’s rarely, if ever, too cold to get in a workout session.
From Melrose to Rodeo Dr., Ventura Blvd, Long Beach, the Boardwalk, the “like-the” South Bay, LA is ripe with healthy fun. Newly Sober? Need and want to get Sober? Hungry for a place with perks and quirks? LA is the hotbed of recovery…ask somebody.