Addiction Recovery Center: 10 Tips to Making It through the Holidays Sober

From Moffitt Wellness Retreat, a luxury addiction recovery center in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 

The holidays are in full swing, which means this time of year can bring big challenges to those working on their sobriety. Whether you are new into your recovery, or a seasoned veteran, the added pressures and expectations of the holly, jolly season can cause stress that is difficult to manage. 

We’re all supposed to be spreading peace, love, and joy, yet some may be feeling alone, or dreading social situations. If you are one of those people concerned about the holiday struggles, or know someone who is in recovery, here are 10 tips to help you keep your resolve, stay strong, stay sober, and still enjoy this “most wonderful time of the year.”

Moffitt Wellness Retreat and Addiction Recovery Center’s 10 Essential Tips

1.    Be Selfish! Yes, you read correctly…

Take care of yourself. When the holidays bring extra responsibilities and added expectations, you may feel the urge to escape. That desire can lead to the memory of using alcohol or drugs to escape those stressful situations. Temptations are heightened when pressures rise, and that’s when relapse is a danger. 

There are other, better and healthier ways to find relief, ground yourself, and in essence “escape” temporarily. Schedule some quiet time each day to “check out” and just breathe, or meditate, take a walk, sit with soft music, and work on your “attitude of gratitude”. During these few minutes just for you, take stock of your strengths, and all that is good in your life right now, no matter how minor you think it is. Making a simple list of things that you are grateful for, builds up your resolve when you need it, refocuses your mindset to what is important in the moment.

2.    Surround yourself with supportive friends and family

Holidays are the perfect time to reach out more frequently to your counselor, AA or NA sponsor, members in your support group, a spiritual or religious guide, or sober loved ones who understand you are devoted to your recovery. Knowing you have a network will help during moments of loneliness or sadness, or when you worry that you will find yourself in a situation in which you have the urge to use. Allow them to be there for you.

3.    Create new traditions

This time of year represents traditions. However, part of your traditions may have involved substance use/abuse prior to your recovery. It’s okay to let some traditions go that no longer support your life of sobriety. The refreshing thing is that creating new ones can be inspirational and bring a sense of joy and accomplishment. You are in charge of defining what a happy holiday season now means for you. Others close to you can benefit from these new ways to celebrate as well. Share ideas, and celebrate together. For example, you might host a holiday gathering for recovering friends and/or attend celebrations of your Twelve Step group.

4.    Take care of someone else

One of the best ways to ease your own woes or worries is to go out of your way to help someone else. It’s mutually beneficial. By helping another, you are absolutely helping yourself. It gives you purpose and that always feels good. There are many charitable organizations that look for volunteers, or you can ask others you know about people or families in need in your area. 

5.    Be prepared with a list of people to call

Have the phone numbers handy of supporters and friends in sobriety that you can text or call at any time. The craving to drink or urge to use could come out of nowhere, and it’s helpful to talk about those concerns with another person who understands or can relate until the craving passes. Keep the list in your phone, on your computer, up on the refrigerator at home, or in your wallet – anywhere you can have easy access. When the craving hits, do not hesitate to connect with a friend or counselor to guide you through the urge. 

6.    Do not forget H.A.L.T

This acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired is useful to help you assess potential triggers. Ask yourself, “Am I feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired?” One or all of these can sneak up and undermine your determination to remain clean and sober. Knowing ahead of time what you can do in each of these situations can help keep you from becoming vulnerable to temptation. Having snacks on hand is one preventative solution. Then when you check in with yourself, and find that you are hungry, for instance, you’ll have quick access to your snacks. Tired? Be mindful of your schedule so that you can get plenty of sleep. Angry? Breathe; say a mantra, or give yourself a break. Lonely? Go to your list of supporters who can listen or talk you through your difficult moment.

7.    Be ready to leave a situation if necessary

During a holiday season it is very likely to find yourself in a situation or somewhere you feel uneasy, or in which temptations are looming. When you recognize this, it is okay to excuse yourself, or simply leave to avoid something that could trigger a relapse. 

8.    Remember WHY your sobriety is important to you

Remind yourself why your sobriety is important to you. Record the reasons you decided to seek treatment and are working your recovery. List the successes you’ve had. List how sobriety is benefiting you. Sometimes, all we need is a quick review of the situation in order to resist temptation and move forward.

9.    Go to support group meetings

If you have been participating in a 12 Step Program, such as Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, make sure you continue your schedule during the holidays. You may want to increase the number of meetings you will attend. You’ll feel comfortable with the fact that you’re not alone. If you have a sponsor, stay in close contact with him or her as needed.

10.    Celebrate your sobriety

The holidays are a time of celebration, so acknowledge your sobriety. You can honor your recovery alcohol and drug free. Count the days clean and sober and be proud. If you have others around who are sober, create a little gathering to celebrate success and the season.
While this special time of the year may bring challenges to a recovering addict, you can make it through stronger than ever, and find reasons to be proud of your hard work.  If you have moments of weakness, go over these ten tips and use what you need to keep counting days alcohol or drug free. And, if you have any tips we have not mentioned, please share with us in the comments below.


If you and/or a loved one are in need of help or encouragement, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Moffitt Wellness Retreat. We are a luxury addiction treatment center and are here to assist you. For a complimentary and confidential consultation please complete this form and we’ll connect with you. 

Should you feel the need to speak to someone at our addiction recovery center right now, please call 1.713.907.5632.