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Avoiding Temptation to Drink Over the Holidays When in Recovery


The end of the year is a prime time for celebrations to occur. From November through the beginning of January, parties and get-togethers abound. Unfortunately a common theme that spans many of these events is drinking. Friends, family, and coworkers gather to socialize, relax, and have a good time. Many people feel more comfortable with a drink in hand.

However, for those in recovery, instead of fun they’re feeling stress. There is a lot of pressure to fit in and loosen up with a drink like everyone else. This can put you in uncomfortable situations and increase temptation and cravings. While it may seem like a good idea to simply isolate yourself and pass on the festivities, this isn’t the best option either. Loneliness, depression, and boredom can also lead you drink. So how can you find a happy medium of enjoying yourself while also sticking to your sobriety?

  • Arrive early and leave early

Oftentimes drinking doesn’t really pick up until later on. At the onset of a party, most people are still sober and just starting to mingle and catch up. Arrive when the party begins and get your own non-alcoholic beverage. Sip on it throughout the night so there is less opportunity for someone to offer you something alcoholic because they see you already have a drink in hand. No one needs to know what is in your glass.

When things start to pick up and guests have had several drinks and continue drinking, use this as your cue to leave. You’re not obligated to stay until the end. If someone asks why you’re leaving early, you can simply say you have had a long day, you have an early morning, or you’re headed to another engagement. You’re an adult and if you want to leave, you can; you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone or explain your reasoning. Arriving early and leaving early allows you to still have a good time without being surrounded by people who have had too much to drink.

  • Skip heavy drinking events

If you know that a party will be heavy on the alcohol and guests are the type that like to drink, politely decline from attending. There will be many other gatherings throughout the holidays and you don’t have to go to every one. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you know you will be uncomfortable and temptation will be high. If there are certain people you want to see, make arrangements to see them at a different time. Perhaps go out for coffee or dinner together another day.

  • Buddy up

Attend parties with a friend or family member who will support you in not drinking by abstaining themselves. Sometimes it’s easier to decline a drink offer when you know you won’t be the only sober one. Sticking with a friend also means that you’ll have someone to talk to and pal around with so you’re not alone. A sober buddy can hold you accountable, provide a distraction, and ease tense situations. You can feel confident knowing that they won’t pressure you to drink or question why you’re not, and they can keep other people from doing so.

  • Stay Active

There is more to the holidays than partying and drinking. Find other outlets to help you stay positive and maintain your sobriety. Volunteering can be a great way to give back and make you feel good. There are plenty of food banks, soup kitchens, and non-profit organizations that need more volunteers over the holidays, so spend your time there instead. You’ll be keeping your mind engaged and limiting your exposure to activities where there will be alcohol.

You can also plan to do things with friends such as going to concerts or theater productions, making your own holiday gifts, baking cookies, decorating, and other activities. Spend time with people who are supportive of your recovery and who make you feel good about yourself.

  • Keep a Positive Attitude

If you start to feel down, take a moment to reflect on the good things that have happened in your life. Read through your gratitude journal or focus on picking three positive things that happened that day. Think about how many days you have been in recovery and what you have gained. How has your life changed for the better? Do you really want to backtrack on all of the progress you have made just for a drink? This can help to put things in perspective for you when you realize how far you have come.

You can still have a wonderful time this holiday season without drinking at all. There are many other ways you can spend your time, and strategies you can use at parties to stay sober and reduce temptation.

If you do have a slip or realize that your drinking has gotten out of control, the holidays can be a great time to seek treatment. At Chapters Capistrano you can immerse yourself in a safe environment where you can focus on your recovery and overcoming addiction. With customized treatment programs, you can figure out what works best for you in order to get back on your feet. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to get yourself the treatment you need this holiday season.