Addiction Recovery Center - Your Tips to Sober Holidays, Part Two

Tis the Season! Eat, DON’T Drink, and Still Be Merry!

The holidays are here, and it’s party time! “Oh what fun it is”, right? Well, we know it should be, but for those in recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs, it may not be as easy to enjoy this magical time of the year if you don’t have strategies in place to bolster your resolve in your recovery. 

So many of the social festivities are centered around alcohol. If alcohol isn’t the featured beverage on the menu, it is usually at least present. If you suffer from alcoholism, being around others who are imbibing can be torturous.  If you are a recovering drug addict who has been through treatment, then you know that drinking alcohol is not recommended, as it is a substance that lowers inhibitions, potentially lowering your ability to resist temptation for your former drug of choice. So, let Moffitt Wellness Center, a luxury addiction recovery center, share with you 5 crucial tips on how best to enjoy this year’s social events while maintaining your sobriety during the holiday season.

An Addiction Recovery Center's 5 Essential Tips to Enjoy a Sober Holiday

1. Be selective about which celebrations you decide to attend

Your addiction recovery center counselor may have advised you many a time to be very selective about the events you attend.

You may be under pressure to make an appearance at various parties: work events, family gatherings, neighborhood festivities, and so on. However, you seriously need to consider what situations you can put yourself in, and still come away successful in your recovery. It is okay to avoid social gatherings in which you fear cravings will be too strong, or emotions may run too high, thereby risking a relapse. Events that focus around drinking, such as wine tastings and cocktail parties, may be too much for you to handle right now. Think first, before accepting an invitation. When you do attend occasions that include alcohol, peruse the area, and take note of what the potential triggers are. From there you can come up with a plan of action: where you’d like to stand or sit during the event, how to position yourself away from the bar, or location of the alcohol.

2. Have a backup plan

When you go to the event, have an idea in mind of how long you plan to stay; then only stay longer if you are feeling completely comfortable. In case you find the temptation is too strong or you feel uneasy at an event, have your list of supporters on hand should you need to make a call, or excuse yourself from a particular conversation and move to a different room to get a breather and determine if you should stay. If you are familiar and at ease with your hosts, you may choose to inform them about your situation so that they can support your efforts in being at the party, and understand if you have to politely leave. If you do feel the need to leave sooner than planned, contact someone from your support list to help you get centered, and work through any anxieties that may have surfaced. Find an AA or NA meeting to join nearby to help you re-strengthen your resolve if you need to.

3. Have two or three polite, brief responses ready to use

Although in some scenarios, you may decide to tell others that you are in recovery, you are not obligated. Who you choose to tell, will change on a case by case basis. Your situation is personal and private. When you are at an event where someone offers you an alcoholic drink, you can simply say, “No thanks, I’m good”. “I’ve already had my fill, thank you.” “No thank you; I’m driving.” or something along those lines. 

People often back off of designated drivers, and nowadays, there are plenty of people at group gatherings who for whatever reason, do not consume alcohol. If you have to repeat your response to someone who is under the influence and getting pushy, that’s okay too. Then, politely remove yourself from the conversation by telling them you spotted someone you need to say “hello” to across the room, or that you’re off to the restroom. The pushy party-goer will move on to someone else. Alternatively, constantly keep a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand signals that you don’t need to be offered something else. Water is certainly fine, but if you feel the need to disguise your drink so that you are not hassled by the party animals, choose a glass of juice, or soda, all of which can be viewed as a cocktail. Then others will be less likely to offer you up something you’re trying to avoid. – The side benefit is that you’ll have something tasty to sip on and feel like you fit in. 

4. Use the buddy-system

If you are going to a party where alcohol will be present, bring someone with you who is also in recovery, or who is one of your supporters. Therefore, you will not be left alone to socialize, can lean on them in any awkward conversations, or confide in them if you are feeling the urge to drink or use. Your “buddy” can help you stay calm, focused and grounded. If at any time, you think things are getting out of control, you have someone safe to leave with, and with whom you can discuss ideas regarding what to do next.

5. Establish “bookends”

Talk with somebody from your support system before attending a party to discuss any concerns, or simply to let them know you are going. This establishes a sense of accountability which is important. Agree that they are willing for you to contact them, and that they will be available upon your return. This allows you to re-connect after the event and can take away some of the pressure or relieve anxiety when you know someone is ready and waiting for you. You have the opportunity to chat about any struggles and how you worked through them, which in turn serves to reinforce your success in recovery. 

Holiday parties are meant to be fun. For someone in recovery, they can present challenges. However, if you keep in mind these helpful hints, prepare yourself and your support network, you too can take part in the celebrations, and enjoy the spirit of the season without jeopardizing your sobriety. ~ Happy Holidays!


If you or a loved one are searching for support from addiction or simply need guidance in discovering the benefits and importance of healthy living, now is a good time to connect with the counselors at Moffitt Wellness Retreat, our addiction recovery center.