With the holidays just around the corner, the journey to sobriety can be extremely challenging. But if you stay committed to your recovery and have a plan, you can enjoy the holidays with friends and family in a safe and healthy way. Here are six tips for staying sober this holiday season.
Get an accountability partner
The role of an accountability partner is to help you stay committed to your goals and offer support when you feel tempted. Whether a spouse or a close friend, this special person must be someone you can trust, and he or she must be fully dedicated to helping you stay sober. Your accountability partner can also act as a chaperone if you choose to attend any holiday events where alcohol is present.
Use a habit-tracking app to stick to your sobriety goals
Habit-tracking apps, such as Strides, Streaks, and Way of Life, are designed to log your daily activities and help you make or break habits. Here are a few additional benefits of using a habit-tracking app:
- Motivation – Habit-tracking technology has the psychological effect of keeping you motivated by notifying you of “streaks,” or consecutive progress on your goals.
- Accountability – An app can double as a virtual accountability partner by sending push notifications to remind you of your daily goals.
- A visual aid for tracking your progress – Habit-tracking apps use beautiful charts and graphs to track your daily, weekly, and monthly progress, helping you make improvements where needed.
Consider adding two items to your app: one for breaking your drinking habit, and another new habit to take its place. This might be an activity that you enjoy or a project you’d like to complete.
Avoid your trigger zones
Your triggers include any situation that tempts you to drink, including certain locations or times of day and even friends who drink around you. It’s important to know ahead of time what these triggers are so you can avoid them at all costs.
For many people, the holidays are a time to get together with old friends. If you aren’t prepared, these meetings can lead to compromising situations. By planning ahead, you can avoid many trigger situations. For example:
- Instead of agreeing to meet an old friend at the pub in the evening, set a date for morning coffee.
- Instead of relaxing at home in the evenings, where you may be tempted to drink, plan activities or destinations where alcohol is certain to be absent, such as museums, movie theaters, or the gym.
- Don’t feel obligated to attend every single Christmas or New Year’s party. If you have any doubt about your ability to stay dry in a certain situation or with a specific group of people, then it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt out.
Host the family get-together
Hosting the family Christmas party gives you the ability to control certain aspects of the environment. You get to set the tone of the party and decide when dinner is served (earlier is better). You can also surround yourself with guests who support your decision to stay sober.
As for New Year’s Eve, consider hosting a night of fun and games for your AA comrades and serve punch.
Decide ahead of time how you will handle parties where alcohol is present
Being surrounded by others who are drinking is the ultimate trigger for many problem drinkers. If you do choose to attend any parties where alcohol is a factor, bring your own non-alcoholic beverage. Be sure to stock enough that you won’t run out, and keep your glass topped up at all times. This will dissuade any well-meaning partygoers from offering you a drink.
Here are a few other measures you can take if you find yourself tempted to drink:
- Instead of mingling with the crowd, help the host with tasks such as meal preparation and after-dinner cleanup.
- Stay close to your accountability partner or other trusted friends.
- If all else fails, leave the party early and make sure you have a safe ride home.
Consider being open and honest about your journey to recovery
Maintaining an honesty policy can help to eliminate the feelings of shame that often go along with addiction, and it can also be very liberating. If friends and family are aware of your goal of sobriety, you won’t have to scramble for excuses to turn down a drink when it’s offered.
However, remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation when you turn down a drink. There’s nothing wrong with offering a simple “no thank you.” Most people will recognize your commitment to your health as a sign of responsibility and character.
If a friend continues to pressure you to drink against your conscience, it’s a good sign that it’s time to respectfully cut ties with that person. Instead, continue to surround yourself with people who are committed to helping you stay sober this holiday season and beyond.