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Seven Tips for Staying Sober Over the Holidays

We are in the thick of the holiday season, and while this should be a joyful and celebratory time, it can be challenging for those of us trying to maintain our sobriety.  But, dealing with an addiction doesn’t have to ruin your holiday fun.  We’ve come up with seven tips to help keep you on the right track all the way through New Year’s Day.   

Play the Tape All the Way Through.  More than likely, alcohol will be present in some form if you attend any holiday parties.  So, in the event you’re hit with an unexpected craving, pause for a second and play the scenario out in your head.  Remember all the destruction your addiction caused in the past and focus on all you’ve got going for you now.  Sometimes taking a moment to think – rather than react – is all we need to get through a tempting situation.

Keep Your Hands Full.  If you’re out at a holiday gathering or New Year’s Eve party, make sure to always have a non-alcoholic drink in hand.  This not only prevents others from handing you a cocktail, but it gives you something to sip on just in case temptation strikes.  It also spares you from having to answer the “why aren’t you drinking?” question from others, which can get old real fast.  

Give Back.  Serving others always has a way of shifting the focus off yourself.  It helps zap those feelings of negativity, like resentment, sadness and shame, while also giving you a different kind of “high.”  So, if you’re feeling a little low, volunteer at the local food bank or help gift wrap for a local charitable organization.  Giving back is guaranteed to help you get into the spirit of the season and remind you of all you have to be thankful for.   

Stay Connected.  Holidays have a way of bringing out the loneliness sometimes, especially if we’re away from family or not in a relationship.   So, it’s natural for us to resort to old habits and isolate when we’re feeling down.  However, a lot can be gained from spending time with others, so surround yourself with loved ones – those who you can be open and honest with, as well as those who support you no matter what.

Avoid Slippery Places.  This goes without saying, but if a holiday event is being held at one of the bars you used to frequent, do not attend.  As the Big Book says, we don’t have to live in fear of alcohol (or drugs), but we do have to respect its power over us.  Part of respecting that power is avoiding places or situations that are likely to lead us back to drinking or drugging.  

Make “Me” Time a Priority.  Just because it’s a busy time of year doesn’t mean you need to completely neglect your needs.  To preserve your sanity and overall happiness, you must take time for yourself.  Whether it’s carving out time to exercise during the week or scheduling a mani/pedi, it’s important that you take care of your physical and mental well-being.  To do this, make sure to schedule and calendar personal time the same way you would school and work responsibilities.

Stick to Routine.  No matter how stressful the holiday season becomes, remember to get plenty of rest, practice healthy eating habits, go to meetings and exercise regularly.  In other words, stick to your recovery routine as much as possible.  

Happy Holidays!