The holidays are a notoriously difficult time for staying sober. Holiday parties and the overall spirit of the time are very conducive to drinking, and people in recovery, especially those who are new, may have a hard time saying no to the constant drink and party offers. After all, drinking is associated with celebration, and there is plenty of that going on during this time of year.

Staying Sober When the Holidays are Depressing

Another major factor that many people overlook is the fact that many people get depressed during the holidays for various reasons. They may be far from family, have lost family in their addiction, or have a general negative feeling about the holidays.

To make sure you are staying sober during the holidays, it is important to have a premeditated plan to make sure that you will be able to cope with situations that may come up. If you are newly in recovery, away from home, and alone- connect with a sober network to make a plan and ensure that you will have well-intentioned people surrounding you.

Here are some ideas of things to do for Thanksgiving to stay sober:

  • Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter
  • Speak at a rehab
  • Attend a 12-step meeting (or four!)
  • Take yourself out to dinner or treat yourself in a way you will enjoy
  • Spend time on the phone with your family or friends
  • Go for a hike/to the beach/ walk in the city – depending on where you live

The key is not to get absorbed in focusing on yourself. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful – no matter situation you are in. And, if you are sober, you have a tremendous reason for being grateful, and that is the fact that you are in recovery!

Holiday Parties and Staying Sober

Maybe you are one of those people who got a ton of invites to various holiday parties but you’re intent on staying sober. If this is the case, it is important to have a plan for going to these events. Also, it is important to evaluate whether the event is worth going to.

For example, a “friendsgiving” event with your old drinking buddies may be better off avoided, as fun as it may seem. Family dinner at your aunt’s is more reasonable not to miss. Either way, evaluate how strong you feel in your sobriety and what you can attend.

For the events you do go to, plan ahead of time by bringing a non-alcoholic drink of your own, and having a plan for responding to people about why you aren’t drinking – because unfortunately people will ask.

Recovery is all about re-learning how to live, sober. Take it step by step, avoid potentially dangerous situations, and remember to be grateful for where you are, every day.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>