Staying Sober During the Holiday Season


I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer.”

~Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Recovery is very different during the holiday season. Sobriety already takes constant vigilance.  But during the holidays, successful recovery means how you’re going to respond to temptation.

During the rest of the year, it’s a lot easier for recovering alcoholics to stay away from situations where there might be drinking. In their normal everyday lives, they can establish the boundaries necessary to support their sobriety.  For example, they can stay away from old drinking buddies and avoid bars and liquor stores.

But everything changes during the five weeks between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Eve. Attendance at family get-togethers and office parties is pretty much mandatory. They will be around friends, family members, and coworkers who are drinking.

We have come up with some helpful suggestions that can help you stay sober during the holidays

Learn to Say “No”

Don’t feel pressured to say “yes” to every invitation – be choosy. There will be some parties where your attendance is definitely not a good idea.

Find Other Ways to Observe the Holidays

Don’t accept “bad” invitations just because you are lonely.  Keep yourself busy:

  • Volunteer
  • Take on extra projects or pick up shifts at work
  • Help out at church
  • Donate time at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
  • Attend local holiday-themed events

Get Help from a Sober Buddy

If possible, bring along or partner up with a non-drinking friend who can stay by your side and keep you from drinking or making other bad decisions.

Practice Your Responses

There will be people who ask why you are not drinking.  Understanding this: it is your business – and your business alone – why you are abstaining.  However,  it can also be a good idea to have a quick response ready if you don’t feel like explaining – “I’m the designated driver” or “I gave it up”, for example.

Practice Good Self-Care

Eat properly, exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest.  If you get too tired or too hungry, it’s easy to make bad choices.

Avoid Foods with Alcohol

Even small amounts of alcohol can trigger cravings, so watch out for traditional holiday dishes like egg nog or rum cake.

Fill Your Own Drinks

If you get your own refreshments, you won’t need to politely accept an alcoholic beverage that someone else tries to give you.  No one is going to ask what you have in your cup.

12-Step Meetings

Most AA groups schedule extra meetings and events during the holidays.  Think about attending an “alcathon” – a 4 hours of meetings, social interaction, food, and sober celebrating. These are typically held on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Have an Escape Plan

Come in your own vehicle.  That way, you can easily leave if you are uncomfortable.

ALWAYS Put Your Sobriety FIRST

If you find yourself in any situation that overwhelms you, stresses you out, tempts you, or jeopardizes your sobriety in any other way – get out of there. Your recovery is far more important than any hard feelings or temporarily embarrassment.

If you are ready to stop drinking and you need help, Chapman House Treatment Centers is the trusted resource you need. Since 1978, Chapman House has been one of the top drug and alcohol rehab programs in Orange County, California.

Contact Chapman House TODAY to begin your own sober journey.


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