With the holidays right around the corner, it’s important for people in recovery to gear up. Holidays mean holiday parties, of which alcohol tends to be the center of attention. This can make staying sober more of a challenge than usual.

The good news is it can be done, and you’ll be in a better position than most who over-indulge during this time of year. According to an article published by Forbes, “Each year we see new statistics that illustrate how “one-too-many” at the office shindig can lead to infidelity, arrests, car accidents and job loss.” They also cited a survey that showed 52% of employed professionals say they have seen someone under the influence of alcohol at a company-sponsored event whose behavior crossed the line from embarrassing to inappropriate to downright dangerous.

Knowing you won’t be one of those who gets themselves into a sticky situation during the holiday party season should help solidify that being a non-drinker is to your advantage. Nonetheless, we’ve put together some pointers on how to avoid drinking at holiday parties.

Preparation is important

Going into the holidays knowing that you may have some feelings of nostalgia or discomfort is helpful. It’s important to stay in tune with how you are feeling and be gentle with yourself, especially if this is your first sober holiday season. Being prepared to have more people asking you if you want a drink or why you are not drinking can get your mindset in the right place to be able to tackle these obstacles.

Also, it’s critical to understand that you are allowed to put your recovery above everything else. This may mean turning down invitations to parties or dinners altogether if you feel it may negatively impact your emotions or sobriety.

Always follow questions about drinks with a positive response

You are likely going to be asked if you want a drink more than once and it’s important to have no qualms about politely declining alcohol. I’ve found the best way to do this is to answer positively no matter what the question is.

So, if someone asks if you want a drink you can say something like, “Yes, I’d love a ginger ale please.” Or if they ask specifically if you want a beer or glass of wine, you can say “no thank you,” but follow up it up with what you would like to have. Being firm, but graceful is key to avoiding unwanted conversations.

Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand

My number one tip for being out in a social setting where drinking is involved is to always have a drink in your hand, even if it is only water. Empty hands are an open invitation for people to offer to get you a drink. When you already have one, they are much less inclined to be worried about you, and if approached you can say “I’m good,” as you show them your drink.

Some of my go-to mocktails are pineapple with Sprite, ginger beer, ginger ale, sparkling water with lime or cranberry with orange juice and a splash of Sprite.

Have an escape plan in place before you get to the holiday party

If you are at a party and you’re feeling tempted or uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to leave. It’s important that you exit immediately from any situations that make you feel uneasy.

I’ve been known to straight up leave, unannounced, and slip right out the back door. There is no shame in knowing your boundaries, and most likely everyone else will be too buzzed or drunk even to notice or remember that you left early.

Make sure your support system is extra strong

This may mean getting to more meetings than you normally do. You also want to make sure your friends and family are aware of your commitment to your sobriety, so they know how to support you.

Another option would be to bring a sober friend with you to the party. Having them there will keep you accountable and help you not to feel isolated.

Lastly, always have someone you can call or text, whether it’s your sponsor, an AA hotline, sober buddies or family who are supportive of your vow to stay sober. Having someone to talk things out with is imperative and will help keep you in check.

Remember why you started and consider the next day

The mind can get tricky around the holidays and make you think, “It’s the holidays, so I’ll just have one.” Whenever this kind of thought comes up, it’s important to remember why you got sober immediately. One practice that has kept me sober is asking myself, “but how will you feel tomorrow?”

Remembering the shame, guilt, horror, and awful hangover it will bring often turns what initially sounded like fun into the ugly truth, which makes drinking much less appealing after the moment subsides.

You Might Be Interested In

Am I An Alcoholic? (20 Questions to Ask)

Not everyone who drinks excessively develops an alcohol use disorder or becomes an alcoholic. Approximately 90% of people who drink to excessive levels will not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of AUD.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol can affect every part of your body, impacting the health of each body system when used heavily or for prolonged periods of time. It is important to understand exactly how alcohol can affect your body so that you can be aware of changes that occur.

Alcohol Rehab in Orlando, FL

Orlando Recovery Center offers evidence-based treatment modalities in a comfortable, supportive environment. The 93-bed facility offers yoga, a swimming area, volleyball, exercise facility and many other wellness-oriented activities.

Find An Alcohol Detox Center Near You

Detoxing from alcohol can seem daunting, but it is the first and arguably most important step in becoming sober. Alcohol detox can be uncomfortable or even dangerous, but with professional help can be a safe experience.

Can CBD Gummies Curb Alcohol Cravings?

CBD gummies contain the oil of cannabidiol. In animal studies, CBD has been shown to be an effective tool against some of the characteristics of alcohol use disorder. Research demonstrates that CBD helps to reduce alcohol intake, motivation for alcohol and relapse.

By – Carly Benson
With over 11 years of recovery under her belt from alcohol and cocaine, Carly Benson has become a faithful believer in miracles, a writer and a person living a mindfully alcohol-free lifestyle. Read more

Everybody’s Getting Drunk At The Holiday Party – And Not Because It’s Fun, Forbes Magazine, Megan Casserly, <http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/10/25/everybodys-getting-drunk-holiday-party-not-because-its-fun/#67a43a1d6dd7>, October 2011

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.