Tis the season to be sober: Tips on how to stay sober during the holidays

Jenifer Knighton

Tis the season to be sober, fa la la la la la la.

Photo byJLK

The holidays are here, and if you are like most of us, this is one of the busiest, most stressful times of the year. With home, work, and school parties, shopping, and traveling, putting your sobriety first can be a challenge. Unfortunately, the holidays have a way of silently hitting us with temptations and triggers. So how do you maintain sobriety when temptation and triggers are everywhere? Let’s talk about some ways to stay sober over the holidays.

Plan ahead

When we don't have a plan in place, stress can often get the best of us. Planning ahead is one of the most important things you can do to stay sober. When you plan ahead, set goals and expectations that are realistic, you can better assess each situation and find ways to deal with them.

You'll have a better chance of staying sober if you plan ahead for conversations or problems that might come up. For example: making plans for how to deal with family or friends who drink at a holiday party. Instead of drinking with them, you could make a drink without alcohol and invite them to try it. If you think they might encourage you to drink, you can make plans to leave the party early.

Set boundaries with your loved ones

The reality is that not everyone in recovery has a group of people cheering them on and supporting their sobriety. When you can't set clear boundaries, being around family and old friends can make it more likely that you'll slip back into old habits.

If possible, talk to these people before any holiday events. Ask them not to offer you alcoholic drinks at any gatherings, and to hold off on the jokes about your past actions because it upsets you. Let them know that these things will help you feel better about yourself, which in return will help you stay sober. If they can't respect your boundaries, you might want to reconsider those relationships.

Seek support

Even for people who are not in recovery, the holidays can be a stressful time. Having someone to talk to is a great way for everyone to stay sober. Since the holidays can be busy, it's best to ask your sponsor or support person to set a time aside when they will be able to listen to you without being distracted.

Create a list of the pros and cons of maintaining sobriety

Whether people like to admit it or not, there are pros and cons of being sober. Write out your list of both and carry it in your purse or wallet. If you are having urges, pull out your list as a reminder of why you are staying sober. Are you on probation? Do you have an interlock device on your vehicle? Could one drink send you on a self-destructive spiral?

Show yourself compassion

Having compassion for yourself will go a long way towards helping you stay sober. If you are feeling upset or stressed, take a moment to think about how far you've come.

Recovery is a big accomplishment that should be celebrated. It is definitely possible to stay sober during the holidays, but it can take a lot of work. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. Getting through the season sober without relapsing takes proper planning, setting boundaries, and seeking support and accountability from others.

If you're having trouble with alcohol or drugs right now, know that you are not alone. Help and resources easily available through online and in-person sessions and groups throughout the United States.

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Jenifer Knighton is a Community Activist, Journalist, Counselor, and DWI-Education and Intervention Instructor focused on social justice and change. Her mission is to build stronger communities through Hope, Empowerment, Advocacy and Outreach, Resources, and Support.

Houston, TX

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