Tips to Stay Sober over the Holidays

If you are new to sobriety and this is your first time in recovery during the Holidays, i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah (I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two), then you might want to start thinking of ways to safeguard your sobriety during this time. It’s true that the first holiday season is tough, but if you are the kind of drunk I was, it didn’t matter if it was Christmas day or plain old Saturday because I was going to get loaded regardless. Holidays are a little different though, because EVERYONE seems to be loosening up and having a few drinks, whether it’s the company Holiday party, or Uncle Bob’s annual New Year’s Eve party, it’s true that people are merrier and tend to overdo it during the Holiday Season.

• Company Holiday Parties – Remember you don’t have to go. If you decided to go plan on going for an hour or two, and try to bring a sober friend, and make sure you have your own vehicle so you can leave if things get uncomfortable for you. It’s safer to watch out for your sobriety than worry about being ‘seen’ as a team player.

• Family Get-Togethers. Same thing applies here, if you are single, take a sober friend with you if you can. If you have a spouse and the meal is usually held at your house, how about telling the family that this year you’ve decided to take the year off? You could even have an exit time planned around the time that you know a recovery meeting is going on, that way you can say you have to leave at 7:30pm so you can make the 8pm meeting.

• Have your own transportation or bus schedule so that you are not at the mercy of someone else for a ride home – that way you can leave whenever you want and not when your friends decide they’ve had enough.

• Meetings, meetings, meetings. Some AA and NA clubs have marathon meetings held over the holiday period and some are even open 24 hours. One recovery meeting per day (or more if needed) during the holidays is a really good idea. You will be around people who understand what you are going through and you can share how you are feeling.

• New Years Eve – This has long been the evening for lightweights, when even the normally light drinkers go nuts and really let their hair down. There are a few things you can do – think about spending it at home with your kids or family, play board games and make a nice dinner. You could also have a nice meal with friends out and go home after the meal is over. I love going to the movies and coming out just in time to see the fireworks going off before heading home. Most AA and NA clubs have dances or parties for New Years or candlelight meetings; you could try either or both. The most important thing is to be comfortable and remember that you’ll wake up in the morning with a clear head and a clear conscience. Not to mention you’ll be able to say that you’ve been sober ALL YEAR so far (even though the year is just a few hours old – it still counts!)

• It’s true that the holiday season is a tough time for newcomers to sobriety, but if you surround yourself with people who are also in recovery and take steps to safeguard your sobriety, you are protecting yourself. One other really important thing I did before going into a stressful situation during the Holidays was to ask my Higher Power for help – and it must have worked because I got through it and you can too. Once you’ve done it the first time, it does get easier and better yet, you’ll be able to remember the look on your kids faces on Christmas Day and the hungover faces of your friends on New Year’s Day! Happy Holidays!

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