What Does It Mean To Be “California Sober?”
Suzette Gomez ❘
People who are "California sober," also known as "Cali sober," either moderately use or forgo alcohol and "hard" drugs.
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The 16th season of ABC’s reality show The Bachelorette has been unlike any other season so far. The show started with Clare Crawley as the lead, but after 4 episodes, she decided to call off the rest of the competition and settle down with one contestant, Dale Moss. This left the rest of the contestants hanging, until a new lead, 30-year-old Tayshia Adams was brought in to take over Clare’s position as the lead. Unlike previous seasons, where cast and crew travel to exotic destinations throughout the season, the 16th season is held solely at the La Quinta Resort & Club in California due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This season also has openly discussed issues like racial inequality, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Bachelorette contestant Zac Clark, who made an early connection with Adams, shared his story of addiction and recovery on Tuesday’s episode of the show.
From the beginning of Adam’s season as the Bachelorette, 36-year-old Zac Clark has received a positive edit from producers of the show, with plenty of screen time that shows his growing connection and relationship with Adams. For this reason, Clark is expected to go far in the competition and is seen as a front-runner, and on the latest episode, airing December 1st, 2020, Clark opened up about his substance use disorder and his recovery.
The pair started out on a classic “one-on-one” date, with a wedding themed photoshoot, followed by dinner, and then a ride on a Ferris wheel. During the wedding outfit photoshoot, Adams and Clark connect over the fact that they had both previously been married. The topic of conversation continued to get more in depth as they moved to the dinner portion of the date. Clark began by telling Adams he grew up in an amazing home with an amazing family that he loves and that he graduated college, until he, “wasn’t feeling well.” After an x-ray, doctors discovered that Clark had a brain tumor. Clark explained that after his surgery for the tumor, he started abusing pain medication. Many people who start taking prescription pain killers after an injury or surgery develop an Opioid use disorder, and sometimes transition to illicit drugs as their addiction worsens.
The Bachelorette is not the first time Zac Clark has opened up about his struggles with addiction. A 2014 article published in a Pennsylvania newspaper, Reading Eagle, quoted a speech by Clark given to students at Alvernia University. Thirty years old at the time, Clark told the students about how his first drink as a teenager, “set off like 15 years of lying.” In high school he drank alcohol and smoked Marijuana and started experimenting with prescription medications. He used Adderall that he bought from girls who had prescriptions for the drug. Clark explained, “I had the numbers of 5 people who I could call at any time and buy their extra doses off them.” Clark played 3 sports in high school and baseball in college, but all the while he was drinking heavily and abusing drugs.
Clark’s substance abuse disorder only got worse after the surgery to remove his brain tumor in his early 20s. He now had access to drugs like Morphine and Dilaudid, telling Alvernia University students, “Now I had something I could go to doctors with, legitimate.” Bachelorette contestant Zac Clark began smoking and snorting OxyContin, the brand name for Oxycodone, a powerful and addictive Opioid medication that has played a major role in the Opioid epidemic. During this time, Clark was able to graduate and hold down a job, and even get married at 23, but his drug use was severe. Clark explained that at the time, his greatest concern was figuring out how to get drugs during his honeymoon in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A quote from Clark in the 2014 article stated, “I have got to leave the country for 10 days and for a guy with a serious, serious drug problem, that’s not cool.”
In his conversation with Adams on the Bachelorette, Clark said, “I was hanging out with some sketchy people, it wasn’t pretty. So I got arrested.” Clark was arrested for possession of Crack Cocaine and driving under the influence (DUI). This resulted in his wife leaving him and getting a divorce. Clark started on an 8-month drug binge where he injected Heroin, smoked Crack Cocaine, and did Whippets. Whippets are a type of Inhalant drug where the user inhales nitrous oxide to experience a recreational high. He explained the dark and hopeless place that he was in, and how some days he felt as though he wasn’t going to make it until tomorrow. After attempting to cash one of his father’s checks, the bank teller called his father and told him what was going on. This moment sparked a realization in Clark where he felt like, “it was time.”
After that moment with his father at the bank, Bachelorette contestant Zac Clark entered rehab for 4 and a half months at Caron Treatment, a treatment program that Clark now serves on the board of. Clark went on to found Release Recovery in 2017, an addiction treatment center in New York, “with the goal of helping people reclaim their lives from addiction.” Clark admitted to going to rehab once before, and he had to show his family his dedication towards his recovery. Clark’s work has paid off. In his conversation with Adams, he said, “just the fact that I’m sitting here is kind of a miracle.”
You have options. Talk about them with a treatment provider today.
Anyone can succumb to the powerful hold drugs and alcohol can have over a person. Over 20 million American adults have a substance use disorder, and only a small fraction of them receive treatment for it. It doesn’t matter what your personal, family, or financial background is. There are options to get help. Overcoming a substance use disorder can feel impossible without help, but professionals are out there who can help with a medically supervised detox, treatment, and an aftercare plan to stay on the path of recovery. To talk to someone about options for you or a loved one, reach out to a treatment provider for free, available 24/7.
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has 6 years of professional writing experience. A passion for writing led her to a career in journalism, and she worked as a news reporter for 3 years, focusing on stories in the healthcare and wellness industry. Knowledge in healthcare led to an interest in drug and alcohol abuse, and she realized how many people are touched by addiction.