Sober Tips for the Holidays

Family - holidays
Photo by skynesher/

With the world as crazy as it has been, I expect the holiday season to be pretty much the same. Keeping this in mind, we have decided to republish our holiday tips for having a safe and sober holiday season. With an increase in stress connected to family and financial matters, the holidays can be one of the most stressful time of the year.

This stress is compounded for those in recovery. Spending time with family tends to reopen old wounds, whether it is things the recovered addict did to the family or situations that happened within the family which contributed in some way to substance abuse in the family. Coupled with the fact that drinking seems to be a common way people cope with the holiday season, holidays can quickly become a recipe for disaster.

Following are some tips to make sure you have the best possible holiday season:

  1. Since family tension is likely higher, you should stick with safe topics. Try to steer conversations away from any topics that may cause contention or open old wounds. Likewise, if another family member starts bringing up the past, keep calm, and navigate the conversation back to safe topics. It may be challenging; however, it is most important to remain calm. You may need to remind others you don’t want to cause any upset and don’t want to talk about it at this time.
  1. Spend time with your family and stay away from other holiday parties. For the most part, your family understands your situation and will support your recovery, so spend time with them. It may also be a good step in repairing the relationships with them to share the holidays with them since you have probably missed some in the past.
  1. If you do end up at a party where people are drinking alcohol, it helps to keep a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand. This will deter others from offering you a drink (likely an alcoholic one). If you choose to tell them you are refraining from alcoholic beverages, that is your choice but keeping something in your hand gives you to option to say what you want and not feel put on the spot.
  1. Which brings us to don’t be afraid of saying you are in recovery. Nowadays, almost everyone knows someone who is in recovery or needs help. People are usually very supportive of not pushing those in recovery to drink. Remember it is your choice to remain sober and that is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
  1. Stay away from anyone who is using. In the event you run into someone who is actively using drugs or drinking alcohol, do not hang out with them. It may seem harsh, but your sobriety takes precedence. The same goes for anyone who tries and nags you into drinking with them.
  1. Keep your integrity. You know better than anyone what your triggers are. Do not take the chance to seem strong or test yourself. It is not worth the risk.
  1. Bring a sober buddy. This may not be an option in all cases but having someone who can be supportive can be a huge help. If this is an option for you, we highly recommend it.
  1. Be completely abstinent, and do not make allowances for yourself. While one beer, one spiked eggnog or one toast of champagne to bring in the new year might seem like no big deal, it can open the door to a road you don’t want to go down. It is best to remain completely sober.
  1. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. If you find yourself craving or stressed, step away from the festivities and get some space. This does not mean disappearing as doing so would worry your family. Tell someone in your family you need a few minutes and go somewhere safe. Take some time to get out of your head and focus on different things and do not dwell in past failures and mistakes.
  1. Celebrate your recovery. While this list can seem somewhat gloomy, remember to be proud of how far you have come. This is a time for your family to see you at your best. Be proud of yourself and have a good time but be safe while you are doing it.

I hope this finds everyone well. We wish you a wonderful holiday season. If you run into trouble, do not hesitate to call us. We are always here to help. 



Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.