The holidays and recovery can be a challenging combination to navigate, but you don’t need to isolate yourself during this time of year in order to maintain sobriety.
While it’s very common for holiday parties and social gatherings to be alcohol-infused, there are plenty of alternative ways to maintain the festive spirit while remaining sober.
In this article, we’re going to give you the 10 best tips for staying sober during the holidays.
Tips for the holidays and recovery
There will inevitably be situations, environments and even people who are going to (intentionally or unintentionally) test your commitment to your sobriety. With a little preparation and strategizing, you absolutely can coast into the New Year with your sobriety intact.
1. Stay focused on why you started
One of the best ways to prioritize your recovery during the holidays is to continue to remind yourself why you started. Plant the thought in your mind, stick a note on your fridge and bathroom mirror, put a picture up on your desk or dresser, and think about it every day.
2. Suggest activities besides “hanging out”
For many people, getting together for the holidays means “hanging out” which, more often than not, means getting a bunch of people together to talk and drink (even if not in excess). Now is the time to start suggesting alternative activities to your loved ones, such as—going to the movies, enjoying Christmas markets, driving down neighborhoods with many lights, attending holiday concerts, ballets and more.
3. Set healthy boundaries
It’s likely that you have one or two family members or friends who aren’t necessarily bad people but maybe are not the best influence or company. They may or may not have the emotional maturity to respect a boundary if you were to communicate one, so feel free to navigate the situation by subtly limiting your time around them.
4. Be aware of the “hometown trap”
If you’re traveling “home” for the holidays, start thinking of activities you can do now with old friends that won’t involve drugs or alcohol. If you’ve completely disconnected from those friends since becoming sober, know that you aren’t under any obligation to rekindle those friendships.
5. Attend sober gatherings
If you aren’t traveling for the holidays, you can always plan to celebrate with local AA or NA friends. The recovery community often formally hosts sober parties, gatherings and activities during the holiday season; a quick internet search can reveal which ones are nearest to you.
6. Take care of yourself
The stress that often accompanies the holidays can lead many of us to put self-care (even the most basic and essential of it) on the back burner. Now more than ever though, it’s important you take care of your mental health, physical health and emotional health. Being intentional with your time and energy, and prioritizing your mental health care as well as nutrition are very effective at helping you to better reject cravings or temptations.
7. Don’t romance the old days
The holiday season can be very sentimental. You might find yourself romancing the drink or drug and reminiscing on the “good old days,” but this can lead to a hyper-focus on a time that wasn’t as positive as you might be thinking. Stay focused on the present. You are here, you are sober, and life is good.
8. Make a plan for cravings
Cravings are going to happen, but how you respond is going to depend on how prepared you are to combat them. Make a list of what works for you, whether it’s calling a friend, exercising or doing a chore — think about what has worked for you in the past and have a list ready.
9. Have your props ready
When you go to a party, one of the best ways to avoid having to explain why you don’t want someone to grab you an alcoholic drink is to simply always have your own non-alcoholic drink in your hand. People won’t be asking or tempting you, and you won’t have to disclose your sobriety to anyone you don’t want to.
10. Seek ongoing support
Completing an addiction treatment program is no easy feat, and it’s one you should be proud of. Recovery doesn’t end when a program does, and if you’re finding it harder to adjust to independent sobriety than you initially thought, that’s okay.
The transition from constant professional care to total independence is challenging, and one of the best ways to maintain your sobriety and recovery during the holidays is to seek ongoing support. This might look like joining a support group even if you haven’t relapsed, or continuing (maybe restarting) your therapy and counseling sessions.
Bluff specializes in providing personalized, evidence-based treatment to help people achieve and maintain long-term sobriety, so they can live the life they’ve always wanted.
To learn more about how we can support you or a loved one in recovery, send us a message today.