Trying to stay sober during the Christmas holidays is an annual challenge for those in recovery. Even many of those with many years of sobriety may find it difficult to stay alcohol- and drug-free during the hustle, bustle and stress of the holiday season. Alcohol goes hand in hand with most holiday social gatherings from company events to family get-togethers. It can feel almost impossible to avoid taking a drink at times.
Since you are aware that drinking is inseparable from the holiday season and much of the socializing, it is a good idea to create a rock-solid plan to protect your sobriety—and your sanity. It is absolutely crucial to plan ahead before you go to a party or event. You don’t want to find yourself caught off-guard and open to the risk of a relapse.
You should focus on enjoying the holidays, eliminating as much stress as possible, and staying sober through the season. In order to help you achieve this goal, we compiled a list of the 10 best tips to stay sober during the Christmas holidays. Whether you use one, a few, or all of them, be sure you take the time to have a plan in place so you don’t have to worry about safeguarding your sobriety.
1. CREATE AN “ESCAPE PLAN”
No matter how strong your recovery is, there will be moments during a gathering where you might feel uncomfortable and anxious due to the drinking that is going on around you. It’s crucial to come up with an “escape plan” to minimize those feelings. The more prepared you
are the more comfortable you’ll feel when you head into an event. Of all the tips presented in this article, this might be the most important.
An escape plan simply means coming up with a subtle way to excuse yourself when you feel you need to leave. You should be able to leave the moment you feel the need to. This can include explanations such as “I have another event to go to,” or “I need to drive someone home”. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t even have to be entirely true, but it does need to be enough of a reason to get you out the door when you feel like it’s time to go.
Create an escape plan to leave soon
2. ALWAYS DRIVE YOURSELF IF POSSIBLE
Another helpful tip in staying sober during the holidays is to drive yourself to an event whenever it is possible. Driving yourself makes it easier for you to leave when you need to. You don’t have to wait around for someone else to be ready to leave. It keeps you from the additional time it takes to order a ride-hailing service.
Driving yourself gives you even more reason to stay sober during the Christmas holidays: you have the built-in excuse of not drinking because you are driving. Additionally, driving yourself to the event comes with the additional benefit of serving as a designated driver to those who may have had too much to drink and need a safe ride home.
3. IF YOU CAN’T DRIVE YOURSELF, HAVE A RIDE ON HAND
There may be times where you may be unable to drive yourself to a holiday gathering. If you’re in a position where you aren’t able to bring your own vehicle, it is important to set up a safe ride option. It’s best to set your ride up ahead of time before you even arrive at the event so you limit any unnecessary waiting around.
Your “safe ride” should be someone who supports your sobriety and will be able to pick you up as soon as you call. You want to ensure they’ll be sober so they can drive you home as soon as you’re ready to leave. This person can be a family member, friend, or someone in your recovery group. Additionally, it’s a good idea to download a ride-sharing app to your phone. Even if you have a ride in place, it’s never bad to be over-prepared.
4. BRING YOUR OWN DRINKS WITH YOU
Bringing your own beverages to an event or gathering is another great way to stay sober during the Christmas holiday. Having your favorite beverage on hand keeps you from relying upon the offerings of the host. Most events will have at least some option for folks who prefer to stay sober but it helps to be prepared.
Safeguard your sobriety by bringing your own alcohol-free beverages with you. Whether it is sparkling cider, mineral water or other non-alcoholic beverage, keep a small stock of your own beverages to make sure you don’t run out. You can also bring extras if you’d like to share
with others at the event.
When you bring your own beverages, it’s easier to decline the offer of a drink and stay sober during the Christmas holidays when you already have something you enjoy. Plus, people are less likely to offer you a drink if you already have one in your hand!
Additionally, in the event you run out, parties with a fully-stocked bar will have a bartender who should be more than familiar with crafting non-alcoholic cocktails, or “mocktails”. These booze-free beverages have grown in popularity over the past few years. There are dozens
of different mocktails that can be created that taste great and look like
regular alcoholic beverages.
5. BUILD A LIST OF PEOPLE TO CALL
Before you attend an event, be sure to put together a list of people you can step out and call while you’re there. Let a few friends know ahead of time where you will be and that they might need to expect a phone call from you during that time. Make sure they’ll be sober and ready to answer the phone when you reach out during the evening.
If you find yourself tempted, step out for a few minutes and call another sober person who understands where you’re coming from. Having those numbers and people at the ready can make a major difference when you’re feeling on edge or tempted to drink. Your friends want to see you stay sober during the Christmas holidays, too!
6. INVITE A SOBER FRIEND TO COME WITH YOU
An easy way to stay sober during holiday gatherings is to bring a sober supportive friend. It’s easier to stay sober when you have another recovering person with you. Ask whether you can invite a plus-one with you to the event and invite another person who will be alcohol-free for the evening.
While you can bring someone who is in recovery with you, you can also bring a friend or family member who is fully supportive of your sobriety. They don’t have to be in recovery themselves so long as they’re willing to stay sober with you for the evening. With this person in your corner, you will feel less pressured to drink. Having a supportive friend or family member with you will provide a great level of comfort and security.
7. REMEMBER THAT IT’S OKAY TO LEAVE WHEN YOU NEED TO
In order to stay sober during the Christmas holidays, you must realize that it’s okay to leave when you need to. People who truly know and care about you would rather you leave early than relapse. Don’t force yourself to overstay your own welcome – excuse yourself when you’ve reached your limit for the evening. You’re allowed to leave when you need to.
This is where an escape plan comes in handy. It gives you a reason to head out at a moment’s notice. If you do find yourself leaving a party abruptly, be sure to reach out to your hosts the next day to let them know what happened. More often than not, they will be understanding.
8. HAVE AN ALCOHOL-FREE GET TOGETHER WITH A GROUP OF SOBER FRIENDS
Is the thought of going to a holiday party or gathering making you too anxious? Host a small get-together! The best way to ensure a sober gathering is to throw your own. Invite a group of people over for dinner or a game night during the holidays. Whether it is family, friends or co-workers, these types of parties reinforce the point that you don’t need to drink to have a good time.
With so many parties centered around alcohol, having a sober event is a welcome change of pace. All of your friends—whether they are in recovery or not–will appreciate it as well! Put on a fun holiday movie, ask people to bring a holiday-themed beverage or dessert, and share an evening with people you care about.
9. GO TO A 12-STEP MEETING
If you are planning on going to holiday functions, it is highly advisable to hit a few extra 12-step meetings. Try to go to one before the event as well as after. 12-step meetings not only set your mind right for the evening but they also surround you with people who understand. They’re a great way to stay sober during the Christmas holiday.
In many cities, many recovery clubs such as Alano offer marathon meetings during the holiday season. Marathon meetings usually take place every hour, on the hour, sometimes even for 24 hours straight. 12-step meetings are a free place that guarantee you the opportunity to spend some time with other sober people. Some clubs even provide meals on holidays for those who don’t have a place to eat with their family.
Our 12 step program will play a key role in helping you form new, healthy relationships that will play a beautiful part in your recovery story.
10. IT’S OKAY TO CAN POLITELY SAY “NO”
Don’t forget that “No” is a complete sentence. You have the right to turn down invitations to social events. Protecting your recovery is the most important thing you can do when trying to stay sober during the Christmas holiday. If you feel that an event threatens your recovery, put yourself first and say no.
Remember that you don’t have to go to something if you don’t want to. If it’s going to jeopardize your ability to stay sober during the Christmas holidays, it’s best to politely decline and find something else to do. Everyone who cares about you will be grateful that you did.
FINDING HELP TO STAY SOBER DURING THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS
Some people find themselves needing to attend alcoholism and addiction treatment during the holidays. While it might not be the most ideal situation to spend this time of year away from your family, it may be the best decision you make.
Addiction and alcoholism steal people away from their families all year long. Sacrificing one year of holidays for a lifetime of presence is a fair trade in the end. Hawaii Island Recovery is one of the best choices for addiction and alcoholism treatment available.