The holidays can be challenging for people trying to stay sober, whether it has been only a few months or years. There are so many parties during this time that all seem to revolve around alcohol. It is also stressful for many because of money, shopping, family, and other obligations. Thankfully, it is possible to stay sober during the holidays.

Here are some things that can help:

Make a Plan for Saying No to Drinks

If you are visiting family, they may know you are in recovery and won’t ask if you want a drink. However, if you go to other parties, people may not know, and you may not want to tell them about your addiction. Have a few lines ready such as, “No thanks, I’ll take a Dr. Pepper, though,” or “I’m not drinking today, thanks.” Planning can reduce stress and panic when situations arise.

Keep Reminding Yourself Why Being Sober is Important to You

It may help to journal about why you want to stay sober or put sticky notes with reasons around your home or in your wallet. When the temptation arises, look at all of these reasons again. It can help you to remember why you are in recovery in the first place.

You Can Say No

You don’t have to attend every family obligation or holiday party you’re invited to. If you know that a party would be way too tempting, just graciously say no. You may want to avoid parties that center around alcohol and being intoxicated, especially in early recovery.

Plan a Way to Escape if You Feel Uncomfortable or too Tempted

If you attend a party where people are drinking, come up with a way to escape. It may also help to go with a sober friend so you can help each other. Ask your sponsor to go with you if you have one.

Spend Time with People Who Support You

Choose to spend your time over the holidays with people who support your recovery and will be a good influence on you. You can also look for sober events to attend in your area.

Start Some New Holiday Traditions

There are so many holiday activities that don’t involve a drop of alcohol. Go ice skating, walk around and see Christmas lights, have a board game night, or plan a nice dinner centered around good food, not alcohol.

Stay Healthy

Remember that you will feel less anxious and stressed if you eat healthily and exercise often. An exercise is a great tool during recovery, and it can be extra helpful during the stressful holiday season.

Focus on Giving

Take care of the people who took care of you during your recovery process. If you don’t have a lot of money to spare for gifts, you could volunteer, spend time with people, or do small acts of kindness. Remind the people in your life why you are grateful for them.

Bring Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Your Holiday Parties

It is a great gift for the host or hostess and you can ensure that you will have something to drink and not be tempted by alcohol. Make sure it is a drink you really love.

Put Your Sobriety First

Do not fall into the traps of drunk friends who will tell you to just “have one” or quit being “boring”. They may not understand your recovery process, but that is okay. You can be strong this holiday season.

Try Going to an AA Meeting Before a Party

This could help you get a dose of strength and inspiration to get you through a particularly difficult holiday party. You may also want to go to a meeting after a party if you are feeling down from avoiding your temptation or people were trying to make you drink.

Never Go to a Party Where You Will be Tempted if You are Hungry, Lonely, Angry, or Tired

Take care of yourself first. Have a glass of water and a snack, calm down, talk to a friend or have a nap before the party. If you decide you just can’t do it, don’t feel bad, just send your regrets to the host or hostess. If they are truly your friend, they will understand. If you feel bad about saying no to party invites, ask your friends to have lunch with you or to hang out another time so you can exchange holiday gifts.

Find an Activity.

Don’t just sit around and watch the bartender pour drinks. Go out and dance, play a game, throw a football around, or talk to someone new. Anything that will keep your mind off the drinking part of the holiday party.

Congrats on your recovery and have a happy holiday season! We hope that you find many ways to stay sober during the holiday season. You won’t regret it. If you recently realized that you need help or are considering treatment, don’t be afraid to find a reputable place that can help you jump-start your recovery process.

Even if you aren’t an addict, it can be life-changing to quit alcohol for a certain amount of time. Notice how much alcohol can be a part of the holiday culture and see if you can abstain during the holiday season. Even if you don’t want to tell everyone about the fact that you are not drinking right now, there are many ways to say you are abstaining. Simply say you are driving, you can’t drink because of a medication you are on, you aren’t feeling well and are taking cold medicine, or just say no thank you. You don’t need to give a reason why you aren’t drinking right now.

If you found this article informative, please SHARE with your friends and family who also want to stay sober during the holiday season! You never know who it may help!


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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