10 Tips for Staying Sober This Holiday Season

happy holidays sign
The holidays can be a tough time to remain sober, but there are some simple things you can do to get through it.

With the holidays just around the corner you may be wondering how you can stay sober with parties, dinners, and social gatherings.

Whether you are newly sober or 5 years into your recovery, it can be difficult to gear up for sobriety during the holidays.

Holidays are also a time when people reunite with family members or friends that they haven’t seen in a while. This can bring up charged emotions, and people may turn to alcohol to cope with feelings such as:

  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Anger.
  • Loneliness.
  • Depression.

However, it is 100% possible for you to attend events and not drink. Here are a few tips to help you navigate sobriety during the holidays.

Create a Plan

If you know that you are going to be around family members, friends, or colleagues that will trigger you to drink, plan ahead. You can create a relapse prevention map that you can refer to throughout the event. Having a plan can help you feel confident in your choice not to drink.

Ask a Sober Friend to be On-Call

Find someone who you can turn to if you experience cravings to drink. This person may be a therapist, friend, or family member. It can also be a sponsor or someone who has agreed to hold you accountable.

You can let this person know that you are going to a gathering or party where there are likely to be triggers. When you experience an urge or craving you can step outside and call this person.

Bring a Non-Drinking Holiday Buddy With You

A sober buddy can help remind you that in the morning you will feel a lot better if you stay away from alcohol. You can both even plan something fun in the morning to reward yourselves with. This could be a nice brunch, an exercise class, or a walk around the park or the beach.

Bring Your Own Drinks

Pack seltzers or sodas so that you have something in your hand. This can help prevent someone from approaching you and offering you a drink.

Decide on a Response

People who don’t know that you are in recovery may ask you why you aren’t drinking. It can be helpful to have a response prepared so that you can calmly reply and avoid temptation. For example, responses could include: “I am on a medication and I can’t drink alcohol,” “I have early plans tomorrow morning (could be an early hike or meeting),” “I am driving tonight.”

Be Smart About Which Events to Attend

One of the hardest holidays to avoid drinking on is New Year’s Eve. Most people celebrate by drinking champagne. Remember – you don’t have to attend every event you are invited to and you always have the power to say “no.”

Remember There Are Other Ways to Celebrate

There may be a community in your neighborhood that is celebrating without alcohol. You can check out different groups on meetup.com or you can search for sober meetup groups. You can also increase your attendance to groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Members will often organize sober holiday events and it can be helpful to surround yourself with others in recovery.

Stay Active

If you are sitting around with a group of friends you are more prone to drink. By staying active and moving around, you will feel less inclined to reach for a drink. You can suggest an evening of looking at holiday light decorations in your neighborhood, or making holiday cookies.

Limit Your Time Around Triggers

If you have relatives that make you want to drink every time you’re around them, try to limit the time you spend with them. If you are going home, you can try to avoid seeing friends who you used to drink or use drugs with. You know yourself better than anyone else. Make sure you are always placing yourself in the safest and most comfortable situations possible.

Tell Those You Trust That You’re in Recovery

If you are honest with the people around you, they can help support you.

Remember, there are so many others out there who are staying sober this holiday season. No matter what stage of recovery you are in, it is important to plan ahead so that you feel confident in resisting alcohol. The holidays do not last forever, and soon you will resume your “normal” life. Remind yourself that it feels good to be sober. You can do this!