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Sobriety 101 – Staying Sober Through the Holidays

Sobriety 101 – Staying Sober Through the Holidays

Staying Sober Through the Holidays – First Year of Sobriety

Those new to sobriety may not have faced a sober holiday in years. It is not uncommon for people in their first year of sobriety to feel anxious during the holiday season. It takes time to learn that holidays and events that were once celebrated with alcohol can be fun and joyous without mind-altering substances. Here are a few tips to help the newcomer stay sober during the holiday. Also included are ways you can help your loved one or family member stay dry through the holidays.

  1. A Sober Holiday Starts with an AA Meeting. AA and NA meetings are free and are often available around the clock during the holidays. Start your holiday with a meeting. If you are new and this is your first sober holiday, take a moment to share your concerns, fears, anger or any other emotion a sober holiday evokes. Remember, one of those emotions may be GRATITUDE for your freedom from addiction. Get experience, strength, and hope from group members and your sponsor.

    Tip: Some of the best meetings I’ve been to have been holiday meetings. The stories shared often come with laughter, and there is usually food and a sense of community and fellowship. It’s more than just a safe place. It is a place to eat, drink (soda or water), and be merry without alcohol or drugs.

  2. Bring a Sober Buddy to Your Holiday Table. (Note: This tip is for newcomers who do not have active alcoholics or addicts at their table.) Accountability is powerful. If you know alcohol will be served during a holiday gathering, bring a sober buddy. Remember, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are WE programs. WE can do together what we cannot do alone. Bringing a sober buddy to a holiday event can give you the strength you need to say no to alcohol. Plus, there is always someone who doesn’t have plans for the holiday. Bringing them helps may ease their loneliness and strengthen both of you as you guard your new sobriety.

    Tip for the family: If you’re loved one is in recovery, consider having a non-alcoholic holiday. If you do serve alcohol, make sure you have water, soda, sparkling cider, or other delicious alcohol-free options for your family member. Please do not give them non-alcoholic beer or any non-alcoholic rendition of a beverage. Just the feeling of holding a beer – even a non-alcoholic beer- can create an intense craving for the real thing.

  3. Stay at Your Recovery Residence. If you’re at a rehabilitation facility, you can opt to stay in that environment for your first sober holiday. Breakthrough Recovery Outreach provides food and celebratory meals for residents during the holidays. This is an especially important option for new alcoholics who know drinks will be freely flowing at home. If you know people will get drunk at your holiday event, please consider this option and spend the day going to meetings and in a safe environment. The greatest gift you can give yourself is a sober holiday.

    Tip to Stay Sober at Home or in Treatment: Use your sponsor or counselor to discuss the conversation with your family before making the call. At the beginning of sobriety, many of us are too fragile to be the only one without a drink. Don’t underestimate the power of alcoholism and think you can tackle staying sober with a group of people you’ve always been drunk around.

    Tip for the Family: If your loved one feels the need to stay at home or their recovery residence, please understand that their motivation is to improve their life and maintain their sobriety. Sobriety is a life and death situation and their decision to stay home is not personal, but life-affirming. Be supportive and wish them a happy, sober holiday. Time changes everything. Next year may look entirely different and infinitely more beautiful.

  4. Create a Sobriety Plan with Your Sponsor: No matter where you spend the holiday, discuss your plan to stay sober with your sponsor. Your sobriety plan may include texting or calling your sponsor to remain in touch. It may involve tips to say the Third Step Prayer in a restroom and asking God to remove your obsession for alcohol or drugs. Your sponsor has faced the holidays sober and can help you move through them successfully.

  5. Staying Sober at a Company Holiday Party: If you are working and your company has a holiday party with alcohol, attending can be VERY challenging. I can tell you that for many years in sobriety, I did not attend company holiday parties. In my case, coworkers planned to get drunk and planned on take taxis home to avoid driving drunk. I just did not feel safe in that environment and declined the invitation.

    Tip to Decline Company-Sponsored Holiday Events: Remember, you do not have to tell your boss why you are declining. Please don’t feel the need to blurt out that you have a drinking problem, especially without discussing it with your sponsor first. You can RSVP that you won’t be attending and if someone asks you why you cannot attend, say you have other plans.

    Tip for When Holiday-Party Attendance is Mandatory: This is tricky. Some companies have luncheons during the workday where alcohol is served. If you must attend, offer to drive your coworkers that will be drinking. Being a designated driver will prevent them from pushing a glass of wine or beer at you. It also will help you stay focused because it gives you a strong purpose – keeping those who drink off the road.

  6. Master Tip for Staying Sober During the Holidays: Whenever possible, bring your car or plan an exit strategy. Even the best plans for staying sober through the holidays may be challenging. If you find yourself overwhelmed, wanting a drink, feeling uncomfortable in your skin without drugs or alcohol, or anxiety-ridden, have an immediate exit strategy in place.

    I cannot tell you how many times, I’ve rushed around a table and kissed everyone goodbye and made a beeline for my car. Even after years of sobriety, I still always have an exit strategy. It is, in my opinion, a critical component of protecting my sobriety.

    Tip for Those Who Don’t Have Driving Privileges: If you cannot drive due to DUI or other reasons, bring a buddy who can drive. Call a taxi if you need to. Ask a family member to take you home if you are overwhelmed.

Staying Sober Through the Holidays – Year Two and Beyond

Once you have a year of sober holidays at your back, you should talk to your sponsor or the group about what you did that enabled the success. Also, rejoice, because it is a huge success.

Analyzing what worked and what didn’t will prepare you for next year. You can use your experience when planning next year’s sober holidays.

Ultimate Tip: Expect a miracle. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that we can eventually reach of a position of neutrality when it comes or alcohol and may recoil from it as if from a hot flame. If that happens for you, this blog will no longer be necessary – because you will be free.

And When That Happens


Ready to Get Sober this Holiday Season?

Contact us by filling out a brief form or call us at 770-493-7750. At Breakthrough Recovery Outreach, we aim to help every client find the miraculous gift of more holidays and more tomorrows.