Whether the holidays are a happy time or a lonely or sad time, or perhaps some of both, the alcohol flows freely this time of the year. Both alcohol sales and consumption increase as people celebrate or commiserate holidays, with friends, family, traditions or the lack thereof. It is the most difficult time of the year to try to be sober. Surviving the holidays without alcohol may seem impossible, but with preparation and dedication, surviving within recovery is possible.
Reasons to Stay Sober During the Holidays
The best gift you can give to yourself at this time of the year is alcohol addiction recovery. While the increased availability of alcohol and the traditions surrounding alcohol make it more difficult, it is important to find your own reasons to get and stay sober at this time of the year.
Some of the most obvious reasons include not having legal trouble from a DUI or other incident, as well as not suffering other alcohol-related consequences within your relationships with friends and family. Avoiding the consequences to yourself physically, mentally, financially and otherwise is another good reason. Ultimately, you should be your own best reason. You should want recovery for yourself. However, all reasons are good and valid reasons. Writing down a list of the pros and cons of sobriety this holiday season could be a great visual reminder for you throughout this time of the year.
Staying Socially Sober
After you have found your reasons to stay sober, the difficult part is implementing an alcohol-free holiday. One of the most difficult things to overcome this time of the year are the social expectations: holiday parties, special family or cultural traditions involving alcohol, and your own personal experiences and expectations of social events. There may be fewer social gatherings this year due to the global pandemic, but many people will still have social expectations involving alcohol. Below are some ideas to prepare for social sobriety:
- Decline invitations to events where alcohol is prevalent, especially if it would be a known trigger for a potential relapse.
- Find people who are sober or in alcohol addiction recovery and make plans with them. Supporting one another is a gift.
- Where possible, replace family or other social traditions with non-alcoholic traditions, such as a non-alcoholic toast, change of venues, drinking non-alcoholic beverages with meals, etc.
- Keep yourself busy with activities that do not involve alcohol
- Stay close to sponsors, support groups and other people in your support network at this time. Keep your support network on speed dial.
Who knows? By being proactive in your own recovery, you may also be able to help others around you to find and keep their own sobriety as well.
Staying Sober at Home
There is peer pressure, and there are familial and cultural pressures. Staying sober at home can be the most difficult at the holidays. It is important to remember that although family can mean a lot to you, your own personal wellness is still a higher priority. You cannot be a loving and productive member of any household or family if you are active in chronic alcoholism and the related behaviors. Taking care of your own wellness is priority number one, above making anyone happy at home. You have the right to:
- Request family meals and gatherings that are free from alcohol.
- Create an example of wellness for others.
- Not be viewed as the “bad guy” or “spoiling everyone’s fun.” You are empowering wellness in your family.
You know what happens when you drink alcohol every day, or even in social situations. You know that your recovery means you and everyone around you will be safer, healthier and happier.
Staying Sober Alone
Being sober alone is the most difficult piece of recovery, this year of all years. So many people are living alone during a pandemic that limits or prohibits interactions with others. So why stay sober? This goes back to your reasons to stay sober. The ultimate reason is that no matter what you have done, you are worth alcohol addiction recovery. You are enough, you are brave, and you are your best self when you are sober.
You know what happens when you drink alcohol every day, you may even know what it is to live with chronic alcoholism. Just because you are alone and the world is incredibly stressful right now is not a reason to drink. Being alone for the holidays is not a reason to drink. You are the reason to stay sober. You are accountable to yourself when you are alone, but you are never truly alone. This holiday season, reach out and find the support to survive the holidays without alcohol.
Navigating an entire holiday season without alcohol may seem impossible. But planning now and advocating for yourself now will make it possible. Alcohol addiction recovery is the best gift that you can give to yourself and everyone in your life this year. Find your reasons to stay sober. Then set your boundaries both socially and within your family. Most importantly, set your boundaries with yourself. Reach out for help. New Life is a Maryland outpatient treatment program for alcohol addiction recovery. Call us at (877) 929-2571, and we can help you survive this holiday season.