7 Tips for Surviving the Holidays (and Holiday Parties) in Recovery

It’s that time of year again. Time to face the elephant in the room that folks in early recovery often don’t want to address: getting through the holidays sober. And, guess what? It’s not as bad as you think (if you were thinking it might be a drag, that is). Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to be mentally prepared for certain hypothetical situations that might present themselves. This way, you’ll know what to do if you walk by an open bar at a family gathering, wind up at a house party full of drugs, or a New Year’s Eve bash sponsored by Moët & Chandon. 

  1. Invite a sober wingman or wingwoman. Having a sober wingman or wingwoman by your side when you’re heading to a social gathering where there might be drugs or alcohol present is a great way to stay accountable. You two can keep each other in check if and when temptation arises, and it also gives you someone sober to talk to when everyone else is slurring their words. It’s a win-win. 
  2. Hold onto a non-alcoholic beverage. While, at the end of the day, it’s not really anyone’s business what you’re drinking, it’s sometimes easier to avoid questions that have to do with why you’re not drinking. This is particularly true if you’re in early recovery and you’re not used to being out and about sans alcohol. If you’re concerned, just order yourself a soda water with lime or a cranberry juice. People might still ask you what you’re drinking (even though, once again, it’s NONE of their business), but having a beverage in hand can help keep the questioning at bay to a degree. Ideally, over time, you won’t feel the need to explain your choices to anyone, but in early recovery, it can be a good idea to protect yourself from excessive inquiries surrounding your sobriety. 
  3. Have an escape plan. If you’re worried about how you might feel at a party or gathering where people are drinking or using drugs, you can mentally prepare yourself by coming up with an escape plan ahead of time. Again, you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to anyone, but if you’re not quite ready to talk to people about your decision to get sober, find another excuse to leave. Maybe you need to take your dog out for a walk to avoid any surprises when you get home, or maybe you’ve got a friend or uncle who needs a ride somewhere. No one is advocating lying, but if you can come up with a handful of feasible reasons why you might have to leave a party, then at least you’ll be prepared should anyone nosey feel the need to ask. When all is said and done, nothing is more important than your sobriety. 
  4. Opt out of parties where you know there will be drugs or alcohol. Not going to a party in the first place is probably the best plan of action if you want to avoid drugs and alcohol while you’re out, but this isn’t always easy (or, in some cases, possible). Nevertheless, if you’re feeling anxious about being exposed to booze and drugs, why not skip the party and go see a movie with a friend instead? At the end of the day, you’ll probably discover after being sober for a while that booze and drug-fueled bashes aren’t actually that much fun if you’re not wasted. In fact, they can be downright boring and predictable. 
  5. Be honest. Honesty in regard to your recovery is a skill that you’re probably going to want to master at some point in your sobriety journey. You don’t have to tell people your life story, but if you can be straight with people about the fact that you don’t drink, particularly those closest to you, it will be a lot easier to manage situations like holiday parties and other scenarios where you could be tempted to drink. Not only will this help you to feel less anxious about what people will think if you’re not drinking, but those who care about you will have your best interests in mind as well. 
  6. Double up on your recovery meetings. So many people in recovery find the holidays to be a challenging time. Sometimes this is because of difficult family dynamics, or because we might feel lonely, or simply because there’s so much temptation around when it comes to drugs and alcohol being present. Whatever the reason, hitting up plenty of meetings means you can go and share your feelings on the regular with other people who feel the same way. And, you can access the tools that you know will work to help keep you sober. You never have to do this alone and if you’ve been in recovery for a bit of time, then you probably know how beneficial meetings are. Use them—they’re your lifeline. 
  7. Call someone in recovery. Sober friends in recovery are also your lifeline. If you find yourself in a challenging situation over the holidays where you feel like you might pick up a drink or use, pick up the phone instead and call someone who understands. Oftentimes, just the sound of a fellow addict or alcoholic’s voice is all we need to get out of our own heads and back on track with our recovery when we’re feeling out of sorts. Connecting with each other is one of the simplest yet most effective tools we have at our disposal. 

Kembali Recovery Center can Help

If you or someone you know and love is struggling to get or stay sober, contact Kembali Recovery Center today to learn about our recovery programs. There’s never any reason to do this alone. 

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