The Holidays and Alcohol: What to Keep in Mind When You’re in Recovery?

The holidays are just around the corner, and that fills you with dread. It’s not the socializing or having to spend time with your distant relatives that’s the problem. You can handle that.

Rather, it’s the alcohol. Being in recovery during the holidays is fraught with danger. It’s so easy to relapse. “I’ll just have one,” you say to yourself. But you know that you can never have “just one” drink.

Whether this is your first holiday sober or you’ve been in recovery for many years, here’s what to keep in mind when you’re in recovery during the holidays.

Acknowledge the Reality of the Situation

First, it’s healthy to acknowledge the reality of things. There’s going to be alcohol present, and you can’t escape it. Rather than fleeing from this thought, embrace it. Denying that reality will only cause more stress.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to like the situation. But acknowledging the situation allows you to move forward and be proactive. That’s a much better position to be in than being caught off guard, panicking over what to do. Take a few breaths, relax your muscles, and give yourself a break. You’ve got this!

Work the Problem

Once you have acknowledged the situation, it’s time to work the problem. Let’s take that big problem and break it down into smaller ones. Consider certain situations that you might find yourself where alcohol might be present. For example:

  • The company party
  • Gatherings with friends
  • Dinner with family

These are very common during the holiday season, and alcohol can be present at all three. Let’s take a further look at what to do in these situations.

The Company Party

Many companies and organizations have a holiday social hour or party to celebrate together. Depending on your organization, alcohol may or not be allowed. If it’s an on-site gathering during work hours, then alcohol may not be permitted.

That makes things easy! But what if it’s after-hours or alcohol is allowed? Here are some thoughts:

  • Have a wingman. Someone who has your back to get through the party
  • Always have a non-alcoholic beverage with you
  • Give yourself a time to leave that’s reasonable

Gatherings with Friends

Gatherings with friends is a little more tricky. Hopefully, these are friends that are supportive of your sobriety and genuinely want you to be with them. Those are the kinds of friendships that mean the most.

But sometimes there’s someone you know who isn’t supportive and insists that you come to their celebration. What do you do?

  1. Try to be polite and decline in the most diplomatic manner
  2. If that doesn’t work, be more forceful
  3. Educate them about why you need to stay sober
  4. Give them a firm “no”

You might feel that saying no is risking ending the relationship. Perhaps it helps to ask why the relationship is more important than your sobriety. Your sobriety isn’t selfish. It’s fundamental to your health.

Dinner with Family

Nothing screams a sobriety nightmare than dinner with family. And it might be harder to say no to family dinner with alcohol present than with friends. First, talk to your family about your sobriety and how important it is for you.

Communicate that you won’t be drinking at the dinner, and ask them to respect that choice. That should work. After all, the important thing is to be together. But what about that cousin or uncle who’s always a jerk and pokes fun at your sobriety?

Don’t hide from them. Rather, embrace it. That will help to diffuse the situation.

Video Chats and Holiday Gatherings

Many groups may choose to have a video call to celebrate the holidays. That doesn’t mean alcohol won’t be present. Many people will have drinks in their hands while on the call. In a way, this scenario is a little easier to navigate.

There’s more distance between yourself and others. Thus, there’s less pressure to drink. You can always have a non-alcoholic beverage with you and most likely nobody will say anything, anyway.

If the thought of alcohol and the holidays is way too overwhelming, there’s help. Talk to a therapist who is skilled in addiction counseling and understands these problems. Find out today how therapy can help you get through the holidays, 256-686-9195.

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