Tips for a Safe Sober Holiday Season
Holidays are stressful, especially for those who recently entered recovery. This time of year brings temptations at parties and events with readily available alcohol and substances.
But staying mindful of good habits can lead to sober fun. Here are tips for those new to recovery and their family members and friends, to ensure a great holiday season.
- Have a plan.
Think ahead to upcoming holiday celebrations, and be selective about which you attend. If you know a gathering is centered around drinking, you may choose not to go, to go with a buddy, or to stay for a shorter period of time.
As time passes, these kinds of events will become more manageable. But when new to recovery, have a strong plan.
- Bring your own beverage or say no.
Bring your own non-alcoholic refreshments, people rarely notice what's in your glass. It’s the easiest way to keep yourself accountable and not draw attention to what you are — or are not — drinking.
- Create new traditions.
Long-standing family traditions may make you uncomfortable or threaten your sobriety. So, it may be time for change.
Talk to family about doing something different and fun that doesn’t include alcohol. Or host your own celebration with friends you met in recovery. A group from one of our recovery houses went to a restaurant, another group went roller skating, and another painted pottery.
Come up with new stress-free ways to celebrate. Consider giving to others. Volunteer at a food bank, make small gift boxes for nursing home residents who are without family, or offer rides to those needing to go to 12-step meetings or religious events.
If you know someone can’t be with family, consider inviting them to join your holiday dinner.
- Take care of yourself first.
It’s imperative in sobriety to put yourself first. This can include daily meditation, healthy eating, exercise. Limit time with people who make you anxious. Surround yourself with supportive people.
- Take a new perspective.
Challenge yourself to think of what you’re gaining in sobriety vs. what you’re giving up. Write a gratitude list about all the things you’re gaining in recovery.
If the holidays have always been about buying presents, try focusing on service or remembering good things about others. Decide you are going to do things differently.
- Avoid relapse triggers.
Holidays tend to bring up a lot of emotion, and emotional triggers can be the most significant. Routines are disrupted and demands increase on our time and finances. All of that can trigger a relapse, so protect yourself by getting to extra meetings and by calling friends and sponsors who will help you get through the season with your sobriety intact.
If you are struggling with addiction or holiday sobriety, consider calling for help. Addiction treatment initiated during the holidays could just be the best gift you can give yourself or someone you know.
Help is always available. Have phone numbers accessible for friends, family and help hotlines.
Community crisis hotline
Call 2-1-1, text zip code to 898211
The Glass House Recovery
Drug rehab and substance abuse treatment
Mental health therapy and addiction recovery
Circles of Care
Behavioral healthcare services
Advance Recovery Systems