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Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery During the Holidays


The holidays can be a very busy and emotional time. Those in recovery may face many temptations and stressors that could lead to relapse. As friends and family, it is important to try to consider things from your loved one’s perspective. Recovery requires change and support from everyone involved. You may have to break out of old routines in order to create a safer, more enjoyable atmosphere for those embracing sobriety. But showing your support can help your loved one to feel more confident and allow them to enjoy themselves with less stress. There are many ways to do so:

Offer non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re hosting a party, have an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks. There are plenty of recipes for “mocktails” (non-alcoholic cocktails) that are festive and delicious. Just because you are having a social gathering does not mean that alcohol has to be involved. If there is alcohol available, try to keep it to a minimum and do not pressure anyone to drink. Sometimes those in recovery think that they can handle having a sip or two to fit in, but this can be a slippery slope. At other gatherings, stay with your loved one away from where alcohol is served and from groups that may have had too much to drink.

Get involved in other activities. Parties are for having fun. Enjoy the music, dancing, games, and socialization. Try to stay busy and keep your loved one involved. Awkward situations, nervousness, anxiety, and boredom can all trigger drinking. Put them at ease by focusing on other things and helping them to feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Be a sober buddy. Join your loved one in staying sober. This way they are not alone and you can hold each other accountable. It can be awkward to be the only one not drinking, so having others saying no as well can make it less uncomfortable. Don’t make a big deal out of it and just enjoy other non-alcoholic drinks and activities together. Be prepared to leave whenever your loved one is ready. They know what they can handle and if they are ready to go, be supportive. This may mean going early and leaving early before things get out of hand.

Start new traditions. Your loved one has had to make a lot of changes in recovery. Be willing to make changes and be flexible as well. If you always celebrated the New Year at a favorite bar, find a new hangout. Or stay in and throw your own party. Instead of champagne you could drink sparkling cider or your own fruity concoction. Let them know that just because they are sober doesn’t mean that you’re going to leave them out. Show your support and solidarity.

Make the holidays memorable in a positive way. If your substance use has become a problem or is interfering with your relationships and activities, seek help. Chapters Capistrano, a drug and alcohol rehab center in San Clemente, Orange County, supports clients in getting their lives back on track and embracing sobriety. With a variety of approaches to treatment, clients can create a plan that more effectively meets their individual needs. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to start a new chapter in your life and begin the path to recovery.