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The holiday season can be an extremely stressful time of year, especially if you just got out of a recovery program and are sober. While getting together with family and friends may have seemed harmless in the past, you could be putting your recovery at risk if alcohol is being served at any holiday function. Therefore, if this is your first holiday season sober, here are 13 tips to help you get through it sober.

1. Practice H.A.L.T.

If you find yourself getting too hungry, angry, lonely or tired at any time during the holidays, take the time to stop and take care of yourself. If you’re feeling hungry, eat something healthy. If you’re feeling upset, isolated or depressed, talk to someone about it. If you haven’t been sleeping well at night, try taking a nap during the day. By not taking these suggestions, you could stress yourself out even more and may be tempted to drink.

2. Stay in Touch With Your Sponsor.

girl talking on phone

Regardless if you’re having a good or bad day, by calling your sponsor on a regular basis will help make you feel more grounded, centered, and secure in your recovery during the holidays.

3. Maintain Your Recovery Routine.

If you’re active in a 12-step recovery program, you probably attend several AA meetings throughout the week. Deviating from your regularly scheduled meetings to attend a holiday function instead could throw your entire recovery routine off balance and could make you more vulnerable to drinking.

4. Consider Avoiding Old Friends.

If you’re new to recovery, it might be a good idea to avoid socializing with old friends that you used to drink with. Why? Because friends who have known each other for years occasionally like to reminisce. As a result, you could find yourself being reminded of all the fun you all had when you partied together. A scenario like this could trigger your old drinking habits.

5. Reach Out to Others in Recovery.

If you’re struggling to get through the holiday season without drinking, try reaching out to others in recovery. Getting support from each other will not only help you in your recovery, but also them with their recovery.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Necessary Questions.

If you’ve been invited to a holiday function, it might be a good idea to talk to the host ahead of time to find out if there’s going to be alcohol. If so, you may need to talk this over with your sponsor and decide if going to this party is really what’s best for your recovery.

7. Find a Reliable & Sober Buddy.

Should you decide to attend a party where alcohol is being served, consider having a reliable and sober friend accompany you. This way they can watch out for you should you be tempted to drink.

8. Listen to Your Gut.

If you’re at a gathering where alcohol is being consumed and you start to feel uncomfortable, consider leaving. By listening to your gut instincts and going home, you’ll be preventing a potential relapse from happening. If the thought of going to a holiday party makes you fearful and apprehensive, perhaps you shouldn’t attend at all.

9. Don’t Worry About Explaining Why You’re Not Drinking.

champagne glasses

Recovering alcoholics may feel uneasy in social situations where others are drinking and they aren’t. Furthermore, in these kinds of situations it wouldn't be unusual for someone to ask you why you’re not drinking. Should someone ask this question, remember that you don’t owe them any kind of explanation. If the person asking is a close friend, you can take them aside and tell them you’re in recovery. However if the person is just an acquaintance who's being nosey, you could just say you haven’t been feeling well and change the subject.

10. Remind Yourself of Your Past Actions.

Should you feel the urge to drink over the holidays, take a moment to remember what consequences followed you from a night of drinking prior to your sobriety. Whether it was saying nasty things to someone you loved or making yourself look like a fool, think about these instances when having the urge to drink.

11. Don't Give in to Peer Pressure.

If you’re at a gathering where people are drinking, chances are that someone there might pressure you into taking a drink. If this happens, politely decline and excuse yourself from the conversation.

12. Don’t Volunteer to be a Designated Driver.

Your friends who are still drinking might take advantage of your situation and ask you to be their designated driver during a night of drinking. Accepting their offer could place you in a situation that could hinder your recovery, as well as your relationship with your friends. If you end up relapsing, your friends could blame themselves for this which could then create an emotional wedge between you. If you get asked this, it might be in your best interest to decline.

13. Stay Grateful.

If this is your first holiday season sober, you might find yourself occasionally missing your old ways and start feeling a little down in the dumps. If this happens, get out a pen and paper and start making a list of all the things you have to be grateful for as a result of your sobriety. When you’re finished, your feelings will be replaced with an attitude of gratitude.

Where Can I Get the Training I Need to Get Into the Addiction Recovery Field?

Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH has an addiction recovery program. In only four semesters, students can graduate with an Associate of Technical Study in Addiction Counseling degree.

For more information, contact Addiction Studies Program Manager, Lori Baker, by email at bakerl13412@hocking.edu or by phone at (304) 753-6473.

become an addiction counselor in ohio