Josh Chandler | November 16, 2022

How to Stay Sober During the Holidays

Why People Struggle to Stay Sober During the Holidays

The holiday season carries many risks associated with relapse for people who experience drug and alcohol addiction and abuse. Commonly loved holiday celebrations—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others—often contain pressures or expectations to engage in recreational drug and alcohol abuse. Sometimes the increased stressors, heightened emotions, family dynamics, or family issues seem daunting and overwhelming, leaving you feeling like you don’t know how to stay sober during the holidays.

At a drug rehab center in Los Angeles, we are acutely aware of how certain factors can heighten the temptation to engage in risky drinking and drug use behaviors. Numerous studies have indicated that instances of binge drinking, for example, tend to escalate during the holiday season, even among those who typically don’t consume much alcohol. This trend underscores the importance of remaining vigilant about potentially hazardous situations and familiar triggers, particularly for individuals who have battled or are currently battling drug and alcohol addiction and abuse. Our team in Los Angeles emphasizes the criticality of protecting your mental, emotional, and physical health by being mindful of these triggers and maintaining the coping strategies developed during rehab. Staying aware and prepared is a key aspect of sustaining recovery and ensuring long-term well-being in the face of life’s various challenges.

However, many resources are available for former abusers and addicts to manage the potential stress of the holidays. Many recovery communities, online resources, and group meetings provide tips and support for staying sober while celebrating. Keep reading for a few bits of advice to maintain sobriety from drug and alcohol abuse this holiday season.

Click here to call Muse Addiction Center today. Our staff is available 24/7 to provide answers and begin the admissions process. Call (800) 426-1818.

10 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays

If difficult emotions, memories, and pressure-filled stress are part of your holiday experience often, maybe a few tips on how to stay sober during the holidays might give you the confidence to continue your successful sobriety.

1. H.A.L.T

Your basic needs are important. Help to make sure they’re met by remembering to H.A.L.T., and check if you’re feeling:

Hungry: Make sure to eat at regular intervals. If you skip meals, your blood sugar levels can change your mood.

Angry: Meditation, exercise, and time outside reduce stress, help quiet running thoughts, and increase the production of natural endorphins.

Lonely: Write or recall a list of people who love and support you, those who’d relish the chance to talk to you when you’re feeling down. It’s always okay to ask for help.

Tired: Lessened sunlight and later socialization can affect your energy level. Ensure you feel rested and ready by getting a full 8 hours of rejuvenating slumber each night.

2. Create new traditions

Introduce new traditions and holiday celebrations that don’t involve alcohol or drug use. Ice skating, decorating cookies, or watching movies are all fun and engaging activities. Making holiday crafts, like learning how to knit scarves, cutting snowflake garlands, or trying to paint a snowy-scene watercolor, creates tangible positive memories for years to come.

3. Have a backup plan

Make sure to have an exit strategy or escape plan for when you are in a situation where you feel a strong urge to drink. Healthy boundaries are important for everyone. It’s okay to leave a situation when you’re not having fun and see cravings on the horizon. If you plan on what to say beforehand, like having an appointment or needing some sleep, it could reduce the pressure of needing a ‘good’ reason to leave, providing you with a graceful exit and maybe a sense of accomplishment and control.

4. Help others

Volunteering and participating in other-focused activities can help you get out of your head, improve your sense of well-being, and enhance your self-esteem. Helping others is helping ourselves.

5. Give thanks

Take the time to list three things you feel grateful for every day. Nurturing your gratitude is part of a tried-and-true strategy for preventing possible relapse.

6. Remember you’re not alone

Gather around yourself a supportive group of understanding friends or like-minded individuals. Sobriety might seem easier if people you love and trust help shoulder the burden. True friends would rather sacrifice drinking or using drugs to keep you safe and healthy. Have a sober buddy, like a friend or family member, join you at holiday parties where alcohol or drugs are present. Remember, it’s always okay to ask for help.

7. Bring recovery materials

Bring your favorite recovery book, CD, or movie when you travel for the holidays. Recovery-oriented media can remind you of your goals and practices, help you feel supported, and keep you on track.

8. Prepare your elevator speech

Have an answer you feel comfortable sharing when someone offers you a drink or asks you a question. Talking about your sobriety may help, or you may not feel comfortable sharing that detail. At any rate, like an escape route, keeping a response on the ready reduces the stress of trying to come up with a good one at the moment.

9. Seek out recovery support

Wherever you are, seek out recovery support. The internet and mobile apps make it easy to find meetings almost anywhere.

10. Write your own guide

Write your personal, 500-word guide to Staying Sober Over the Holidays to keep with you for comfort or reference. You might even feel inspired to share it with others who could be struggling with how to stay sober during the holidays.

how to stay sober during the holidays

What You Should Do If You Relapse

Even after detox, rehab, recovery, and following all of these tips and tricks, the slightest trigger might inspire a slip back into harmful and dangerous substance abuse behaviors of the past. The same brain functions govern the internal conditions that could result in a relapse as those that control mental health-related issues. Remember, relapse is not a moral failing, and it’s okay to admit. Forgive yourself, and seek help, so a slip doesn’t become a slide.

Contact your sponsor, attend meetings as soon as possible, or ask trusted friends or family to contact a detox and recovery center if medically supervised detox is necessary. Sometimes the danger of overdose looms over relapse, and the best chance at further recovery and relapse prevention is in the hands of a care team at a rehab center for addiction treatment.

See how long it takes to repair your liver from alcohol abuse here:

Does Your Liver Heal From Alcohol Abuse?

Get Addiction Help Through Muse

At Muse Treatment Center, we are dedicated to providing a place where people experiencing addiction and abuse can rediscover themselves. Our holistic approach aims at healing your body, mind, and spirit with a safe and comfortable detox experience, affordable treatment options, and individual treatment plans. We also accept couples for simultaneous treatment, and our rehab facility is pet friendly! Sometimes our furry friends can help us the most.

Muse Treatment Center in Los Angeles offers a safe haven from substance abuse and solace for healing other mental health disorders. Our Los Angeles rehab center features individual and group therapy, administered by a clinical services team and medically trained staff to treat a dual diagnosis of concurring addiction and mental health disorder. We offer drug and alcohol detox, inpatient alcohol and drug rehab, outpatient rehab, and a sober living environment. If you’re struggling with how to stay sober during the holidays, contact Muse at (800) 426-1818 today to help get back on your best foot forward.

Recovery,Sober Living,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.


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