8 Tips: Sobriety Through the Holidays

2 min read · 2 sections

The end of the year brings people together with Halloween parties in October, Thanksgiving dinner in November, and a plethora of holidays in December such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. These events can be exciting and sometimes overwhelming. The latter is especially true for those battling a substance use disorder or an alcohol use disorder. Or perhaps for an individual in recovery who may get triggered by the festivities. Maintaining sobriety through the holidays may be challenging, but it is possible with effort, focus, and support.


Holiday Tips, Pressures & Substance Misuse

The holidays can bring out both the best and worst out of many of us. This applies to anyone, whether you’re struggling with alcohol or substance misuse or no disorder at all.

If you don’t have an alcohol use disorder or struggle with any substance dependence or misuse, here are some helpful tips to remain safe during holiday celebrations:

  • If you consume alcohol during the holiday festivities, don’t drive. Plan ahead and have a trusted sober family member or friend be a designated driver or schedule/order a rideshare service.
  • Avoid overindulgence. Drink water between alcoholic beverages.
  • Pace your alcohol consumption. Drink one alcoholic beverage each hour to avoid binge-drinking.
  • The safest option: don’t drink alcohol at all. Enjoy the festivities without the libations.

And if you’re currently sober and intend on remaining that way throughout this holiday season, you may want to make yourself aware of two types of pressure: direct social pressure and indirect social pressure.

Direct social pressure is a scenario that involves an individual offering you an opportunity to drink or simply when an individual directly offers you a drink.

Indirect social pressure is a scenario that involves you being around others consuming alcohol, causing you to feel tempted to drink (although no one has offered you a drink).

To minimize the risk or to avoid relapse altogether, preparation is key.


Sobriety Tips from Clinicians

One of the strengths of the staff at American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) facilities is that they are empathetic to the needs of an individual struggling with drug and/or alcohol misuse. Some of our staff members are successfully in long-term recovery themselves, so they speak to patients from experience, empathy, and knowledge as trained medical professionals and licensed physicians.

The tips that AAC’s staff shared are from across several of our facilities, including Oxford Treatment Center, River Oaks, Greenhouse Treatment Center, and Desert Hope Treatment Center.

The suggestions are provided by individuals in a variety of positions, including a clinical manager, clinical directors, and counselors. We’ve compiled some of them here to help you with the trials and potential triggers brought on by the holiday season.

Two sets of hands supporting one another in maintaining sobriety.8 holiday sobriety tips:

  1. Set boundaries with friends and family. Know what you’re willing to be comfortable with and share this with others in order for loved ones to support your sobriety.
  2. Plan ahead and practice your plan for refusing drugs and/or alcohol. A prepared mind can respond to situations in healthy and productive ways.
  3. Have scripted responses for anticipated scenarios. Don’t get caught off guard with innocent family members or friends offering you a drink, which may be a temptation for you. Plan your response.
  4. Increase self-care.
  5. Engage with your recovery community.
  6. Remain committed to the routines/rituals that ground you.
  7. Create a list of why maintaining your sobriety is important to you.
  8. Avoid isolation. Be consistent with accountability to your sponsor and others who you’ve made this commitment with. Attend meetings and pull on the support of others in recovery.

The holidays may feel like the greatest universal paradox. While they’re about quality time with friends and family, other variables like money, gift lists, guest lists, and for some, alcohol and drugs, drown out that quality to the point where good times are watered down to nothing. Sometimes we lose sight of what’s truly important in the first place, but we don’t have to.

There are resources available to help you to achieve long-term sobriety and to live a productive life beyond the holidays, one step at a time. AAC is a nationwide leader in addiction treatment. We treat for alcohol and substance misuse, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression. If you’re struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol,  AAC is here to help.


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