Whether you’re in long term or early to recovery, the holidays might seem a difficult time to stay sober. Below are tips to protect you from any uncomfortable situations you might face.


Plan to protect your sobriety

Plan ahead. Parties and family gatherings can be soaked in alcohol, and hosts offer drinks. Before heading out consider these tips:

Attend a 12 step meeting beforehand, or invite a sober friend to tag along to your event

Plan to meet with your sponsor or chat with them on the phone before heading out

Use your own transportation, or ride with someone in your support system

Limit your time around stressful situations or difficult people

Prepare to politely say No

Leave early if you feel uncomfortable


Rewriting your holiday story

Talk with a sober friend or sponsor about the emotions and expectations you have wrapped up in the holidays — especially if you feel resentful, or replay in your mind childhood experiences and memories. Investigate and challenge the internal monologue about what you are owed and what you are lacking — some of which might be a carryover from the past. Break down the defensive walls and forgive others, then you can approach the holiday season with a stronger sense of gratitude.

The disease of addiction is as powerful the day after a holiday as it is the day of and the day before. Recovery is a one-day-at-a-time endeavor, no matter the season.


Stay sober, be helpful

Find opportunities to be of service. Look for ways to volunteer, reach out to a newcomer at a meeting, spend time with an elderly loved one or neighbor. There are many ways to give back, pay it forward and be of service. Each opportunity guides you further away from resentment, self-pity and fear.


What are you drinking—and what are you thinking?

At gatherings and social events, tote around your favorite non-alcoholic drink. People won’t feel so inclined to offer you a drink, and they won’t get the chance to pester you about your sobriety. Hang on to your glass! No explanations are required.


Triggers and traps are optional

If you know a family member might grill you about your recovery or why you aren’t joining in, avoid them. If someone offers you a drink, stay away. If the office party is really all about drinking or other drug use, make a brief appearance or don’t attend. It’s unrealistic in all of these scenarios to say, “I can soldier through it.”


Try not to isolate

Celebrate the holiday season and the fullness of your sober life by taking time for yourself. Proper nutrition, exercise and restorative sleep can do wonders for your well-being. The better you feel physically, the stronger you will be emotionally. Nourish your spirit, through personal reflection and connection with those you love. Find some quiet time each day for relaxation and meditation — if only for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are. Remember isolation is an enemy to those in recovery. Reach out, be accountable and check in on your support systems.