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How to Stay Sober Over Christmas and the New Year


If you are recovering from alcohol or drug abuse, you may find that there is a lot of temptation around Christmas and the New Year. This can be particularly true if you have only been sober for less than a year or two. The danger of relapse at this time of year is high, but there is plenty you can do to reduce the likelihood of this happening – in fact by doing the right things you can eliminate this risk. It is the aim of this blog post to provide you with all the information you are going to need to secure your sobriety and still enjoy the festive season.

Why Staying Sober at Christmas and New Year Can be Difficult

There are a number of reasons why staying sober at Christmas and New Year can be more of a challenge including:

  • This is a time of year when even strictly social drinkers will let their hair down. There is a real party atmosphere, and the individual can feel left out and this can lead to resentment.
  • This is also the time of year for office parties, and these tend to involve plenty of alcohol consumption. Most people feel that they have earned the right to go wild at the office Christmas party and by not joining in the fun the person can feel a bit deprived.
  • Many heavy drinkers and drug users look forward to Christmas because their behaviour can appear more acceptable. The person may feel that they will no longer be able to enjoy what was previously their favourite time of year.
  • Some people will tend to get a bit depressed around this time of year. This can be particularly true for those who are estranged from their family and live alone. When people are feeling low like this it can weaken their resolve to stay sober.
  • There will usually be a great deal more pressure on people to drink or take drugs at this time of year.

How to Stay Sober Over Christmas and the New Year

Here are a few ideas for how to remain sober over Christmas and the New Year:

  • If people belong to a 12 Step fellowship they will find that this can be a great source of support at this time of year. It is recommended that those who are still relatively new to recovery (first two years) should increase their attendance at meetings throughout December. These 12 Step groups also tend to have booze free Christmas and New Year’s parties – these can be great fun and they help to ensure that the individual does not feel left out of the festivities.
  • This can be a good time of year to experiment with alcohol free cocktails. The individual should make sure that they have plenty of soft drinks at home. If they are going to visit friends and family, they might want to bring their own favourite soft drinks so that they do not feel left out.
  • The fact that people do not drink alcohol can be more noticeable at Christmas. There will usually be people who feel the need to ask why this is the case. The easiest way to deal with this type of enquiry is to just say, “I don’t drink.” There is no need to provide your life story or get involved in a deep conversation. Those people who are still caught in addiction are often the ones that feel most threatened by the non-drinker, and they can be quite insistent that other people join them in intoxication. If simply saying that you do not drink is not enough to get this person off your back, the best idea is to just leave their company.
  • If you are in the first two years of recovery, it is best that you limit your exposure to people drinking as much as possible.
  • One of the reasons this time of the year can be so difficult is that you may have many traditions that revolve around drinking alcohol. What you need to do is begin creating new sober traditions. For example, going for a long walk on Christmas day.

How to Remain Sober at a Christmas Office Party or New Year’s Party

It is best that you avoid drinking events completely, but this is not always possible when it comes to work parties – for example, of you are part of the management team there may be an obligation for you to be there. Here are a few ideas for how you can survive a Christmas or New Year’s party without risking your sobriety.

  • Make sure that there is going to be plenty of soft drinks that you like. It is best that you do not drink fizzy drinks all night though, as you can begin to feel sick – drink plenty of water as well.
  • Never leave your drink out of your hand, as there is a risk that somebody might spike it with alcohol. If you are going to be leaving your drink to go to the toilet, or anywhere else, it is advisable that you chuck it and get a fresh drink when you return
  • It can be a great help if you can bring along a sober friend but only if this person is very strong in his or her own sobriety. This individual will be able to offer you support, and you will not feel so left out of the loop.
  • It is strongly advised that you leave the party early on in the proceedings. Once people start to get drunk it can become boring for sober people anyway.

If you start to get an urge to drink alcohol, you need to leave the party right away. As soon as you get outside it is recommended that you ring a sober friend for support. Never stay in a party if you feel that there is any risk to your sobriety.

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