Sober Holiday Tips

holidays in recovery

The busiest holiday season of the year is just around the corner. Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, and the celebration of the New Year are filled with gatherings of family and friends, including special dinners and office parties. When you are in recovery, some sober holiday tips can help you manage the challenges and enjoy the celebrations of the season.

The Challenges of the Holidays

As happy as the season can be, it can also be very stressful. Particularly if you are in recovery from an addiction, the stress to participate in certain activities or deal with certain situations can be overwhelming. Recognizing these challenges is one of the most important sober holiday tips, to help you prepare to truly enjoy the festivities, safely.

Changes to your routine: During the holidays, you might be taking time off from work and traveling to see family and friends. You might also spend more time at home decorating and cooking, preparing for guests. Your regular routine will undoubtedly be disrupted for a day or several days or even weeks. Regular, nutritious meals and recovery activities such as adherence to attending AA meetings can be difficult during this busy time.

The stress of family: Everyone, whether in recovery or not, faces some level of stress at the idea of spending time with family members they haven’t seen all year. In your addiction, there may have been some strained relationships with those family members. Anxiety is not unusual even when you are looking forward to seeing people again.  

Parties: This is the season for family gatherings, special dinners, office parties, and celebrations with friends. These parties can be especially challenging when others pressure you or question your decision to not consume alcohol, which seems to be in abundance at most celebrations.

Plan Now to Enjoy a Sober Holiday

Another of the very important sober holiday tips is to go into the season with a solid plan and stick to it. Stay focused on your recovery goals each day, including those days that involve family reunions and holiday parties. You know that you have to have a plan each day about how to stay sober that day and the holidays are no different. In fact, the upcoming season will require you to be even more dedicated to your plan and see it through each and every day.

Know the Risks

Part of your daily plan is to assess the situation and determine how big a risk the day’s activities may be for your sobriety. If you are just starting your journey to recovery, you will need to try to avoid those parties where you know the alcohol will be flowing openly. If you cannot turn down the invitation, you can plan to arrive late and leave early, driving yourself so that you can leave when you feel you need to do so.  

One way to avoid the temptation of alcohol at a holiday gathering is to bring your own beverage. If you want to join in on a champagne toast, for example, have come sparkling water or juice that you can enjoy safely and still participate in the celebration.

Eat ahead of time to keep your blood sugar from dipping too low. Having a nutritious snack or meal before the holiday gathering can keep you from feeling irritable or anxious, which can make you more impulsive and tempted to consume something you know you shouldn’t.

Manage Your Stress

The idea of going to a party or family dinner can be stressful in itself. Actually attending the festivities can add to your stress level. Take steps to safely manage that stress in a healthy way, before, during, and after the gathering. Try taking deep breaths while meditating and pushing out any thoughts of substance use. Go for a walk or make time for another form of exercise, which will benefit your mental health as well as your physical health.

Lean On Your Support Network

When you have a close friend or family who knows you are in recovery, you can ask that person to accompany you to your holiday gathering to support you when you decline the offers of drinks. If the stress of the holidays is affecting you as you decorate or prepare for company in your own home, take the time to reach out to a support group, to attend extra meetings, and to connect with those who understand your challenges. You can enjoy the upcoming holiday season, even in recovery from an addiction.

California Addiction Treatment Center

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for help when you need to overcome your addiction. We are uniquely equipped to help you. At HVRC, we offer a full continuum of care, from acute medical detoxification to sober living programs. We are licensed as a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH), enabling us to provide more services than most addiction treatment centers. During COVID-19, we remain open and continue to follow all of the CDC guidelines to keep you safe and healthy.