My first holiday season sober was stressful & daunting. It’s not only the parties that were triggering but also the feelings & family memories associated with the holidays.
There are so many expectations for the holidays and it can make people more miserable than cheerful. It's almost impossible to avoid watching people drink alcohol during the holidays. Socializing, partying, and the holiday season in general can make people want to drink.
Here are some tips that helped me get through my first holiday season in recovery and many more that would come the following years.
1. Bring a non-drinking friend with you:
This can be a relative, friend, or significant other. Just anyone who will be sober with you! It’s always nice to have someone clear-headed and on the same level as you.
2. Bring a fun non-alcoholic beverage:
Holding something to drink in your hand can make you feel more involved. I would always bring sparkling cider or sparkling water. Sometimes I would also get creative & make mock-tails. Hello Pinterest!
3. Stay connected with people in your support network:
Have people you can text or call on speed dial. Let them know where you will be and that you may need to reach out for support. Everyone has their phones these days so chances are, they will be available! The more people who know what you are up to, the better.
A plus about not drinking, is not having to worry about DUIs. Drive yourself, so if you feel uncomfortable or get tired, you can just hop in your car and go home. Or if it’s really that bad, go to an AA meeting!
5. Have an excuse if someone offers you a drink:
“No” is a complete sentence. However, some people are pushy and want to know why or try to change your mind. Say it’s for health reasons or be honest and say you are a recovering alcoholic. If they can’t respect that, then walk away immediately.
6.Write out a list of tirggers beforehand:
Be self-aware and be able to recognize triggers before it is too late. Also, be honest with yourself about what those are. If there is a person who will trigger you, then don’t go. Put yourself first, ALWAYS!
If games are going on, join in! It will rescue you from small talk with random people. Or offer to help. Staying busy can take your mind off potential triggers.
8.Remember why you are sober:
Take a stroll down memory lane & remember how miserable life was in your using days. Don’t glorify it, because it was probably anything but glamorous. Be grateful for where you are now in life and how far you have come.
If this party will put your sobriety in jeopardy, don’t go. Plain & simple. Alcoholism & addiction is pretty common these days so most people will understand. Always put yourself first.