4 Ways to Stay Sober During the Holidays

By Constance Ray of Recoverywell.org

The holiday season is one of the most difficult times of year for those in recovery. A number of seasonal specialty drinks are advertised, family get-togethers place pressure on you to drink, and the stress makes you second-guess your resolve. However, it is very important that you remain strong and get through the holidays sober.

It is also important that you remember to enjoy the holiday season. You don’t need to abuse substances to have a wonderful time with family and friends. Here are a few ways you can remain sober and still appreciate the season.

Talk to Friends and Family

The best way to guarantee a temptation-free party is to speak openly with the host. If your loved ones don’t know you are in recovery or don’t understand your situation, you can’t expect them to accommodate your needs.

However, if you are open, holiday party hosts are more likely to offer up nonalcoholic beverages, place the alcohol away from the main area, and avoid offering you alcohol. These actions on the part of a host will make your holiday season much easier and much more enjoyable.

Host Your Own Parties

If you want to guarantee an alcohol-free celebration, you might consider playing host yourself. Be sure to note that your party is an alcohol-free event on the invitations and serve delicious holiday drinks such as spiced cider, virgin eggnog, and sparkling cider. Your event will contain all of the elements of a good holiday celebration without the difficulty of being surrounded by people drinking.

Know When to Excuse Yourself

If a holiday party isn’t turning out particularly recovery-friendly, it may be time to duck out. You do not have to stick around a party that is making you uncomfortable or is fostering an environment of excessive drinking. As a person in recovery, it is important to know when you need to leave a situation.

There is no need to make a big deal out of your exit. Simply say goodbye to everyone and explain that you have to leave. If you want to avoid a similar situation next year, you may want to gently speak with the host about why you were unable to stay.

Limit your Stress

Stress is a leading cause of relapse. In fact, it is also the reason many people being abusing substances in the first place. The holidays tend to be stressful as families come together and rediscover their differences.

One of the most important things you can be doing for your recovery is limiting that stress. Try taking up relaxing hobbies such as yoga and meditation. Of course, sometimes, all you can do is quietly remove yourself from a stressful debate.

When you are in recovery, sometimes the holiday season can inspire you to go into survival mode rather than enjoying what should be the most wonderful time of the year. Though your recovery is important, you should also take measures to ensure that you get to have fun during the holidays too.

Speak with loved ones and let them know what you need from them in order to stay sober. Limit your stress levels, know when to excuse yourself from a bad situation, and consider throwing your own party if you want to be in control of your celebrations. Whatever you decide to do, be sure that you find a way to be both happy and sober.


Constance Ray co-created RecoveryWell to provide a safe place for people to share their addiction stories so that others can learn from them. The goal is to share stories of hope from survivors who know that the fight against addiction is one worth having, because no matter how it affects you, life can get better.