Stay Strong This Holiday Season with these 10 Ways to Stay Sober During the Holidays

Every year, the holiday season present a range of opportunities rife with threats to sobriety. Foraging through the emotional minefield from hallowed eve to New Years that comes with innumerable invitations to relapse is a serious challenge facing people in any form of addiction recovery.  Finding ways to stay sober during the holidays is critical to the well-being of people in recovery as well as to those whose life their relapse will impact. 

While easing into this precarious phase with a strategic plan may seem like a simple solution, few recovering addicts take this approach to maintaining holiday sobriety. In fact, many people in recovery ignore tips for staying sober during the holidays celebrations or shrug off articles that suggest ways to stay sober over the holidays choosing instead, to leave their hard-earned sobriety to chance.  Unfortunately, based on a study published in Psychology of Addictive behaviors and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alcohol and drug related fatalities increases incrementally over the holidays and doubles in most states during New Years.

If you are committed to your sobriety, but still want to enjoy the holiday season; the following ways to stay sober during the holidays may help you achieve these goals.

10 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays

  1. Make a Plan – The clique “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” is extremely relevant when it comes to sustaining long term sobriety.  While sobriety maintenance can be a challenge for people in recovery on any given day; efforts become even more difficult during the holidays.  As such, planning ahead takes some of the surprises and missteps that is typically during end of year activities. To be effective, it is important to implement proven relapse prevention tools as well as other personal solutions to avoid a relapse.  Being proactive about staying sober during the holidays requires looking at all possible scenarios that could derail your recovery and selecting one or more ways in advance to defuse each of those threats.

  3. Host Your Own Events. Making a conscious effort to celebrate primarily with friends and family who support your sobriety and do not favor drug and alcohol use will make it much easier to enjoy holiday sobriety.  Being proactive about spending time in a variety of safe social venues or hosting your sober events with a mix of people who are committed to staying sober as well as those who support this agenda will benefit everyone involved.

  5. Speak Your Truth. Since it is not always possible to avoid environments that favor drug and alcohol use during the holidays, it is important to be prepared with positive prearranged rebuttals to invitations to drink or use drugs. For instance; it is almost inevitable that you will be offered an alcoholic drink in a social setting.  Be prepared to speak your truth by saying without explanation. apology or making a big deal about that fact that do not want to drink or use drugs by saying…

    “No thanks, I’m not using or drinking tonight” or simply “I don’t want to right now.” In the likely event that you are being prodded or coerced, be prepared to change the subject or walk away.


  7. Know your Alternatives: Spontaneity is common during the holidays. People in recovery are often caught off guard when they find themselves confronted with temptation while hanging with friends who suggest heading to a bar or an impromptu party where alcoholic beverages are being served.  This is where being savvy about alternatives can help you to enjoy having a non-alcoholic beverage with friends without sabotaging your sobriety or highlighting your efforts to stay sober.  For instance, be able to request at least one or two “mock tails” or non-alcoholic drinks that makes it difficult for others to tell exactly what is in you are drinking.

  9. Arrive late or leave early. If you must attend a social event where you know that you will be faced with the temptation to use an addictive substance, it may be helpful to limit the time you spend in that environment.  Set up your own boundaries by deciding ahead of time how long you can stay at an event that would cause you to relapse.  Avoiding prolonged exposure to the temptations is one way to prevent a relapse.

  11. Choose your Own. No matter when you arrive at a social event; get your non-alcoholic beverage in hand early. For most people, it is usually more about sharing a drink with you rather than about what you choose to drink. Keep your non-alcoholic drink of choice refreshed to minimize offerings for a refill.  In a busy social setting, only drink from containers that you have ordered or opened yourself, and keep track of your drink. Staying sober also means you will be less likely to get a drink that is spiked or inadvertently pick up someone else’s drink.

  13. Easy Exit Strategy. Be determined to immediately leave any event where the temptation to relapse whether to alcohol or drugs becomes evident.  That means you must have a prearranged exit strategy that is easy to execute such as having your own transportation or someone who can pick you up quickly.

  15. Use the buddy system. Whether your feel confident about your ability to stay sober or not it is always beneficial to have support on hand.  Ask a supportive friend, family member or sober coach to accompany you to events that could be risky for you.

  17. Balance Emotions. Holidays are known for triggering severe imbalances in emotions.  Memory triggers of happier times can cause feelings of sadness and loneliness.  Also, worry about money or interactions with family have been known to plunge people into mood swings and depression are typical during the holidays.  Don’t take these feelings likely.  But before you decide that you need the support of alcohol or drugs, seek help from “all” your support systems to quickly restore some semblance of balance and reinforce your desire to say sober.

  19. Stay Active. The worst thing you can do during the holiday season is to isolate yourself due to fears about relapsing.  This is the time to be most proactive about relapse prevention.  Go ahead and double up on talks with your sobriety coach, don’t miss any group meetings and participate in activities that are specifically planned to help people in recovery stay sober during the holiday season.

Recovery from addiction is a journey; not an event.  While the consumption of alcohol is an acceptable pastime in American society and the use of illicit drugs has increased in popularity, these substances create serious consequences especially for people in recovery and those teetering on the edge of dependence or addiction.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.