You CAN Enjoy a Sober Holiday Season
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and the world is preparing to ring in the new year. With December already upon us, many in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction are asking themselves, “How do I stay sober for the holidays?”
This is a reasonable question. Clients leave our addiction treatment program in San Diego excited about living a sober lifestyle. But, when December rolls around, they often feel overwhelmed about staying sober for the holidays. This is completely understandable.
Most people who struggle with a substance use disorder approach the holidays with complete abandon. Religious holidays and New Year’s Eve give people “reason” to take their drinking or drug use to a whole new level in the name of celebration. When people get into recovery, they have become so accustomed to being high or drunk during the winter festivities they don’t know how to enjoy them sober.
The good news is, not only can you stay sober for the holidays, you can actually enjoy them.
How Do You Stay Sober for the Holidays?
In simple terms, there is only one way to stay sober during the holidays – one day at a time. This is how ongoing, continuous sobriety is always achieved. It happens one minute, one hour, and one day at a time. The month of December is no different.
Of course, telling you to stay sober one day at a time during the holidays really doesn’t help you. You already know this – although it does help to have a reminder. As one of the best rehabs in California, we consider ourselves an authority on sobriety. You’ve come to us looking for practical tips for maintaining sobriety during the month of December, and we plan to deliver.
So, without further ado, here are seven tips for staying sober during the holidays:
1. Make the Decision to Stay Sober No Matter What
Make the decision now that you are going to stay sober for the holidays. Dig your heels in and tell yourself that NO MATTER WHAT, you are going to get through the month of December without taking a drink or using drugs. Making this firm commitment now will set the tone for the weeks to come.
2. Put Your Recovery As Your Number One Priority
Sobriety should always be a top priority. But, it has to be especially important during the holiday season. If you don’t keep your recovery as your number-one focus during the month of December, you can easily fall off the proverbial wagon. This is because the consumption of alcohol and other drugs runs rampant during this time of year.
The temptation to drink or get high will be at its peak in December. Holiday parties, an increase in alcohol advertisements, and the stress of the season – these all have the potential to leave you feeling triggered to binge drink. If you make recovery your number one priority, it will make it easier to stay sober for the holidays.
3. Know Your Triggers and Avoid Them Wherever Possible
Triggers can lead to an impulsive decision to drink or take drugs, which will quickly lead to a relapse. If you know your family pushes all the wrong buttons for you when you get together with them, you may want to stay away from the holiday family gathering this year. If you know that listening to Christmas carols triggers you to want to celebrate with drugs or alcohol, change the radio station. If you associate eggnog with alcohol, skip it this year.
Remember, you have to make your recovery the top priority to stay sober during the holidays. This might mean you have to miss out on some activities you have enjoyed in the past until you are stronger in your recovery.
4. Stick With Sober People
As the old saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.” If you are hanging around people who get high or drunk, chances are you are going to get high or drunk. Conversely, if you stick with a sober crowd, you are more likely to stay sober.
If you went to drug or alcohol rehab in California, reach out to some of the people you went to treatment with. Staying sober for the holidays is best enjoyed with people in recovery. Throw a sober party or check out local events that aren’t focused on alcohol.
5. Be Selective About What Parties You Attend
Give yourself permission to miss out on Aunt Clara’s Christmas extravaganza this year if you know everyone is going to get sloshed on her traditional rum eggnog. Take a pass on the holiday work party if alcohol is going to be served. Don’t go to your old buddy’s Hanukah hookah party if you know there will be drugs there.
Eliminate the temptation to attend an event that centers around getting loaded. When you do this, you greatly increase your chances of staying sober for the holidays. If you do attend a party where alcohol is going to be served, bring a sober buddy with you.
6. Be a Designated Driver
Drunk drivers are a real problem during the holidays. This is evidenced by the increase in drunk driving fatalities that happen every year around this time. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that annually, about 300 Americans lose their lives in drunk driving accidents during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
If you decide to attend a party where you know alcohol is being served, volunteer to be the designated driver. This will give you good reason to say no to alcohol if it is offered to you, and it will keep you accountable for your sobriety.
7. Create a Relapse Prevention Plan
Relapse prevention is the key to staying sober for the holidays. Having a plan in place will set you up to enjoy a sober December. When you create your relapse prevention plan, be sure to identify your triggers. Tell your friends and family that you need their support right now. Have sober buddies you can call if you are feeling tempted. And, perhaps most importantly, identify ways that you can keep your stress level down.
Have a Fun, Safe, and Sober Holiday
Although it might seem strange to stay sober during the holidays, you might be surprised when it’s all over if you stick to your recovery plan.
Most people report that they truly enjoy their first December in sobriety. They get to be fully present at the moment without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They have more money to spend on loved ones. They don’t rip through the holidays in a blackout. They get to treasure the precious time they spend with family. They remember everything that happened. They get to experience the joy of the season.
We encourage you to stay sober during the holidays. You can do it! And we promise – you won’t regret it. From the AToN family to yours, we wish you a happy, safe, and sober holiday season.