Binge Drinking at Christmas: Avoiding Addiction or Relapse

Tips on avoiding addiction relapsing into binge drinking at Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time of celebration and joy, when friends and families come together in eagerly anticipated gatherings. For recovering alcoholics and individuals struggling with substance addiction, the Christmas holidays can be something very different.  When a newly sober individual or one who has to work to hold onto sobriety is plunged into large, noisy family celebrations, it can re-awaken old cravings, especially if the celebration takes place at the family home or a location where the individual used in the past. To help you stay strong and resist the temptation to relapse into binge drinking at Christmas, we’ve got some tips on avoiding addiction or relapse during the holidays. 

Be prepared

Since you have a good idea of the issues and attitudes you will encounter during family celebrations, take the time to prepare before the celebration. If this is your first Christmas celebrating with your family since you started recovery, devise answers to the questions that you know will arise about your addiction and current sobriety.

Rehearse your responses

Do some role playing with a counselor or sober friend who can help you come up with responses that are non-confrontational. Decide ahead of time what you are and are not willing to answer, and don’t hesitate to tell someone if they are being too intrusive.

Don’t go it alone

If you will be attending your family Christmas celebration, bring a sober friend with you. If you decide that it is safer for your sobriety to avoid the family events this year, you should plan other activities with sober friends. Staying sober during the holidays is much easier when there is someone supportive of your sobriety to remind you of why this struggle against cravings and old habits is worth the effort.

Attend meetings

If you feel that your sobriety is in danger, go to a twelve-step meeting. Even if it is the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, there should be a meeting somewhere near because most alcohol and drug recovery support groups host meetings around the clock during the holidays. If you will be traveling for the holidays, look up the locations of meetings ahead of time so you always have somewhere to turn. If weather prevents you from attending, call your sponsor, counselor, or a trusted sober friend who can give you the support you need to resist the urge to relapse into binge drinking at Christmas.

Make different plans

If you find yourself dreading the pressures and stress that you are going to face at your family’s Christmas celebration, or if you are concerned that attendance is going to compromise your sobriety and cause you to relapse, give yourself permission to skip the family drama. Since Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion for everyone, including you, feel free to make plans to spend a sober Christmas with people you will be genuinely happy to spend the holidays with.

Keep a non-alcoholic beverage in hand

Making sure you have a non-alcoholic beverage with you at all times can avoid the hassle of glad-handlers who try to insist you join in an alcoholic toast or worse, decide to add alcohol to your drink without your permission.

Volunteer to help others

If you tend to struggle with depression or sadness during Christmas, don’t give yourself time to dwell on the past or relieve mistakes, because that can definitely undermine your relapse prevention strategies. Volunteering at a homeless shelter or other place where you can focus on helping others instead of yourself is a great way to avoid relapse during the holidays.

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.