Josh Chandler | November 7, 2017

How to Stay Sober During the Holiday Season

The holidays are a difficult time for many in recovery. To stay on the right track, learn how to stay sober during the holidays in our latest post.

Sobriety can be a challenge at the best of times when you’re a recovering addict. The holiday season, however, can present you with a whole host of additional obstacles to overcome.

Stressful family events, old memories, loneliness, holiday parties, and all of the different holiday foods are just a few of the road bumps you might end up facing.

This doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in a closet and avoid the holidays altogether, though. All it takes is a little knowledge of how to stay sober, some planning, and a good dose of willpower to get you through.

We’ve put together a solid list of ideas, methods, and plans for you to utilize on your quest to stay sober this holiday season. Feel free to mix, match, and adapt this list to fit your situation and needs!

Plan, Plan, And Plan Some More

Daily life can often be lived in the moment, making decisions on the fly and plans at the last moment. Staying sober, on the other hand, takes a bit more work. Planning ahead can help you avoid stressful situations and conversations, as well as minimizing your exposure to these kinds of situations as much as possible.

You’ve been learning how to stay sober, careful planning can help you stay that way.

Plan what you’re going to say

Whether it’s questions about your sobriety, offers of cocktails or other temptations, or conversations that can end up turning ugly, knowing what you’re going to say can help reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

Plan exit strategies

No matter how hard we try, sometimes things can go south in a hurry. Tense family gatherings are a good example. Meetings with old friends who may have encouraged your addiction could be another.

It’s not selfish to extract yourself from these situations before they spiral out of control. The holidays may be about spending time with loved ones, but it’s not worth letting the stress and anxiety undo all of the hard work you’ve put in.

Plan fun, distracting activities

If there are events, downtime, or traditions that put your sobriety in jeopardy, plan to do something different instead. Skating, caroling, sleigh rides, crafting, viewing light displays, playing board (or video) games, watching movies, or even volunteering are all activities that can take the place of tempting situations.

As long as you’re spending time with loved ones, having fun, and avoiding temptation, that’s really all that matters.

Plan your days out

There can be so many invitations, parties, dinners, and events during the holidays that just thinking about them all can be overwhelming and daunting.

Mapping out where you’re going and who you’re going to be seeing each day can help you retain a sense of control, which is vital when you’re trying to stay sober. This can also help you avoid the situations where temptations are going to be strongest. Even if you feel you must make an appearance, sticking to the schedule can give you the perfect excuse to keep things short.

On the flip side, you may be spending the holidays alone. You may not have any friends or family you can visit, or would even want to visit, for that matter. While this can be just as stressful, and even worse, depressing, it doesn’t have to be.

Make sober friends, attend meetings, visit community holiday events, or volunteer your time with the needy. Keep yourself occupied and avoid sliding into a pit of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Remember, you’re not alone.

Plan what you eat and drink

This may seem strange, but unless you’re getting or making your own food and drinks, you have no idea what people have cooked with or added to a drink.

There are a lot of holiday foods that have alcohol added, and even if the actual alcohol content is cooked out, there’s still the taste and smell, which means the temptation is still there. Bring your own drinks if you can or make them yourself when you arrive at a place, and make sure you ask what’s in a dish before you eat it.

Some people may take offense at first, especially if they don’t know about your recovery. Once they see that you’re serious about staying sober and making your recovery work, however, they’ll more than likely be willing to support you any way they can.

If they don’t take it seriously? Then you know who not to spend time around!

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

Between a plethora of events to attend and a sense of obligation to do this, that, and the other for family and loved ones, it’s easy to neglect your own personal well-being during the holidays.

Exhaustion, hunger, irritability, and being stressed out can lead to a weakening of your willpower. This can kill your ability to say no to the things you’re trying to avoid. It’s important that you remember to take of your own needs as well, even if it means missing an event or leaving early.

Remember to stick to your normal coping routine as well, whatever it might be. Whether it’s exercising, meditating, keeping a gratitude journal, talking to a support group, or something else, the holidays are just like any other day.

If you make excuses and let these routines slide now, what’s stopping you from doing the same thing any other day of the year? Remember, it’s not just about knowing how to stay sober. You have to actually do it as well!

Learning How to Stay Sober Isn’t Just For The Holidays

Sobriety is a lifelong journey, and the steps you take to stay sober during the holidays can help you year-round.

There will always be parties, dinners, events, gathers, and situations that can test your willpower. There may come a day when these steps come automatically to you and you don’t have to think about it. Then again, there may not.

Knowing how to navigate these kinds of tricky waters and be in control of tempting situations can help boost your sense of confidence and self-worth. Knowing you can do this, and can handle these pressures, can go a long way in helping to smooth out your road to recovery.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and create a support group of sober friends for yourself, either. Having a network of friends who know how to stay sober to fall back on can help you get through times where you’re feeling weak and low.

We’re Here For You

When all else fails, don’t be afraid to fall back on professional support. We know how to help you through the darkest moments, and get you back on track when you slip. If you need advice, have questions, or just need someone to talk to, contact us.

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