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Four Tips to Stay Sober Over the Holidays.

Mom and daughter making Christmas cookies.

The holidays are upon us! This is the time when we are surrounded by our amazing family, and best friends. Most of us are walking along the snow-covered streets singing Christmas carols, or at home making baked goods from scratch and feeding the squirrels as they scamper by. Right? Ha, not in my world. My reality looks a little like this. I’m currently sick with a cold that includes laryngitis, my family and I bicker about random stuff that’s truly unimportant and I want to spend time with my friends but in reality, just finding a day and time to meet outside of life’s obligations make it probable that I won’t be seeing any friends over the holidays. Did I mention that I haven’t even started Christmas shopping yet?

If all of those regular things weren’t enough to deal with during the holiday season, I need to remember that my disease (Alcoholism) is lurking in the corner waiting to sucker punch me from behind. It just happens to be dressed in flannel pajamas this time of year. If any of this resonates with you fear not, here are four tips to stay sober over the holidays.

Tip Number One. Have an exit strategy.

This was very important to me in early sobriety and honestly still applies today. If you decided to attend a function where you know there will be alcohol there then you need to have an exit plan on the off chance you get too uncomfortable. Your exit plan need not be elaborate either. It can simply mean recognizing the fact that you have the ability to walk out of the party at any given time. You can say that you don’t feel well, or that you are stopping at another function. It doesn’t matter what you say, what matters is feeling comfortable to grab your coat and walk out the door at any moment.

Having a sober friend attend the gathering with you is a great idea. There is strength in numbers. This isn’t always an option though, so be ready to dash anytime you need to even if you are on your own. If you’re worried about offending the host don’t. I guarantee the host would rather you ditch out early than get drunk, knock over their great aunt’s crystal vase and ruin the entire party.

Personally, I suggest staying away from gatherings where everyone will be drinking as the main event. You know what I’m talking about. These are the Christmas parties that are an excuse to have a party, so the host puts the word Christmas in front of it. This is the place that no one would care if you got drunk and knocked over the tree, they would be happy you did it before they did. You know what I’m talking about. Stay away from these places just like you would on any other day of the year. Don’t let the word Christmas fool you as you know what is really at play.

Tip Number Two: Have your sponsor on speed dial and be ready to text, or call.

One of the first parties that I went to in early sobriety was at my mom’s neighbor’s house. These people were all older than I was, but they still drank. I honestly forget the reason I attended but I remember jumping into their spare bedroom to call my sponsor. She was great and just hearing her voice made me relax and calm down. It doesn’t have to be your sponsor who you call. It can be anyone who knows that you are sober and is supportive of you maintaining sobriety.

Tip Number Three: Carry a nonalcoholic beverage in your hands at all times.

I was always amazed at how most people rarely asked if I wanted something to drink as long as I had a glass in my hand. As alcoholics we have to remember that we are the ones obsessed with drinking, not others. Many times, the host is simply trying to be a good host when they ask if they can get you something to drink. However, this simple question throws those in early sobriety for a loop. I know it did me. The good news is that the longer you’ve been sober the easier this question gets. I do not even think about it now when someone asks me if they can get me a drink, I answer easily and choose a nonalcoholic beverage.

When your newly sober being asked what you would like to drink is terrifying. A million emotions run through you. Try to relax and remember that we are the ones concerned with drinking not the person asking. You can simply tell them what nonalcoholic drink you want. Or as I mentioned, as soon as you get to the party grab a glass of water, or ask for a soda, coffee, or tea so that you will have something in your hands. Keep it with you for the remainder of the evening. If someone asks you if you need a drink or a refill just smile, look at your glass and say, “I’m good.”

Tip Number Four: You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t feel comfortable.

Lighted No Sign

This is your life. You don’t owe anyone anything. Alcoholics like to beat ourselves up for all of the terrible things that we used to do when we were drunk. We know that we hurt people, let people down and hurt ourselves. The list goes on and on. However, as we work the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, we realize that we are healing and that we must put our sobriety above everything, for if we don’t, we will lose whatever we put above it. Therefore, do not feel bad if you decline an invitation. You would not feel bad about saying no to a drink, you might feel uncomfortable but that’s different than feeling bad. Saying no to an invitation is exactly the same thing. You might feel uncomfortable telling Aunt Ginny that you won’t be able to make it to the annual Christmas party this year, even though you have gone for the last 18 years in a row. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable saying no, we aren’t used to it. However, don’t ever feel bad for putting your sobriety first.

If you have any other tips that helped you in early sobriety leave them in the comments below.

Looking for more tips on hot to stay sober? Check out another blog post here:


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Image by Tim Mossholder


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