Celebrating Sober: 11 Tips for Staying Sober during the Holidays

December 1st, 2021

The holidays are here, and that means it’s time for festive parties, potentially dramatic family gatherings and a high number of opportunities to drink alcohol. It can be a particularly difficult time for those in recovery, who may feel pressure to indulge with friends and family or who experience triggers during the holiday season. It’s important to set expectations and prioritize yourself through this time. Take a look at some tips for getting through the holidays as someone who is recovering from addiction:

  1. Create a plan for staying sober when attending parties. Go into the event knowing you’re not going to drink. Most events have several types of drinks that you will be consistently offered so be prepared. You can communicate with the host prior to the party to know more about what to expect and create a plan using that information. 
  2. Be selective about which events and parties you attend. If you think a party will have too many triggers or too much temptation, feel confident in saying “no.” Recovery matters more than attending a Christmas party. This is particularly important for those who are new to recovery. Saying yes when you should say no can create problems and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. 
  3. Plan your own event with friends who are also in recovery. This is a great option if you are looking to avoid temptations to relapse when you’re surrounded by people who aren’t familiar with recovery. Host an event yourself to provide a comfortable environment for members of your community who may also be in recovery. This could also become a new tradition moving forward. 
  4. Tell people you are in recovery if you feel comfortable with those people. If you’re comfortable, be honest when you say no to a drink or say no to an invitation. Have a response prepared for when you’re asked about wanting or accepting a drink. You can prepare a standard elevator speech for when you feel the need to explain why you’re denying a drink. 
  5. Serve yourself at the party. People who are not in recovery are accustomed to handing out drinks casually, but it is best to serve yourself to ensure what’s in your cup. Maybe bring your own bottle of water or soda and keep it in your hand so others don’t ask about getting you a drink. 
  6. Recognize your triggers. Everyone has their own specific triggers regarding relapsing. If you can identify your triggers, you have a much better chance of avoiding them. Pay attention to the people, situations, or places that trigger you to drink or use drugs. For example, if going to a specific house causes significant stress for you and may end up in you relapsing, choose not to attend. If you find out a family member that causes you significant stress will also be in attendance at a family function, make the best decision for you regarding attending. 
  7. Stick to your schedule for meetings or counseling sessions. In all the hustle and bustle of this time of year, it’s easy to let your recovery habits fall to the side. To avoid a relapse, stay consistent with meetings. It’s easy to locate meetings almost anywhere now so keep this habit up even when traveling. 
  8. Have a sober buddy. Ask a family member or friend to attend functions or events with you as your sober buddy. You’ll feel less alone and feel their support as you spend time together sober. 
  9. Practice self care and reward yourself for staying sober. Identify the practices that are important to your self-care routine. This could include meditation, regularly practicing favorite hobbies, writing in a journal, or simply relaxing at home. To reward yourself for taking care of yourself and your recovery, indulge in some of your favorite things such as reading a good book, going to see a movie, or eating comfort food. 
  10. Create an exit plan for when you need to leave an event. If it all gets to be too much, have an exit strategy in place so you can leave quickly. You can drive yourself so you can head out as soon as you want to leave. 
  11. Focus on relationships and what’s important. The holiday season has become very commercial, but it is helpful to remember what actually matters during this time of year. Pay attention to the significant relationships in your life and celebrate those people. Take time to feel gratitude for how far you have come in your recovery. Instead of attending parties with the purpose of having a drink, use it as a time to connect with people in your life or create new connections.


Staying sober can be more difficult during the holiday season, but there are many resources available for those in recovery. If you or a loved one are in need of help with substance abuse, contact the admissions team at Windmill Wellness Ranch. We want to help provide a safe place for you or a loved one to find sobriety.