5 Tips For Staying Sober Over The Festive Season

Whether this is going to be your first sober Christmas or your 10th you need to put a little bit of thought and effort into how you are going to manage the upcoming festive season.

Over the Christmas period and New Years Eve the alcohol flows, the parties are pumping and drugs are encountered more often at social gatherings. Even addicts and alcoholics with long time recovery will be facing these challenges.

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5 Tis For Staying Sober Over The Festive Season

Have A Plan

Make sure to plan your Christmas and News Years Eve festivities long in advance. If you are new to recovery and facing your first sober festive season you may feel at a bit of a loss. Very likely previous festive seasons were rather drunk and debortuous.

The best way to spend your first Christmas and New Years Eve is with other recovering alcoholics and addicts that understand exactly what you are going through. You need to be around people that are sober and that can show you how to have fun without alcohol and drugs. You need to create new memories and experiences to look back on.

Chances are high that you are not in contact with all the people that you were using with and drinking with. Being in recovery is about doing things differently and surrounding yourself with the winners.

Many groups in recovery hold sober parties over the festive season – make sure you know where and when they are and make a commitment to join.

If you are going to spend Christmas with family make sure that you plan ahead, that you are aware of your triggers and how you are going to cope. Talk to your family, recovery sponsor and counselor about your relapse prevention plan. The more support you have the better.

Be prepared for the conflicting feelings you will have. Chances are high that you are going to be feeling a lot of uncomfortable and often conflicting feelings. You may feel sad, lonely, angry, anxious and even excited. All of these feelings can be triggers. Have a plan in place for dealing with these feelings.

Christmas Tree decoration

Stay Active & Busy

Stay active during the holidays both with activities to do, but also with physical activity that will be good for you health. Find things to do that will give you a full body exercise as well as provide fun and entertainment.

Go hiking, mountain biking or any other outdoor activities – get yourself out there into nature. It will do you the world of good.

Another great way to stay clean is to read recovery literature – you can read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book which gives a lot of recovery information, along with personal stories from alcoholics. There are also lots of books written by alcoholics and addicts that will give you strength, inspiration and understanding of addiction.


You need to keep yourself busy and, just as important, you need to create new memories to look back on. It is so common for addicts and alcoholics to think back to their drinking and using days, remembering only the fun parts and leaving out all the damages and chaos that came with it. Building new and happy memories of sober festive seasons will make it easier to face each time.

Stay Connected With Your Support System

If you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART recovery group or any other recovery group such as through your church make sure to stay connected and attend meetings throughout the holidays.

If you went to a drug rehab center contact them and find out if they have anything planned for the festive season that you can attend.

If you are going away on holiday find out if that area has any recovery groups, chances are very high that they do. Just because you are on holiday does not mean you can forget about your recovery program – you will need it more than ever.

Make sure you have a sober buddy on call that you can phone at any time if you feel like having a drug or taking drugs. You may even want to have a sober buddy for the holidays – you can help each other stay sober and attend events together. It is so much easier to stay sober when you are not alone.

Woman wrapping Christmas gift

People, Places & Things

I’m sure you’ve heard this before over and over again – but it must be said again. You need to avoid the people, places and things associated with your using. Be very careful about the events that you attend, pay careful attention to who may be going to events that you would like to go to and make sure that you stay away from any places that may trigger you.

How To Cope Being Offered Alcohol/ Drugs

Chances are high that no matter what you do or where you go, at some stage during the festive season, someone may offer you a drink or a drug.

Make sure that you have a response prepared rather than being caught by surprise not knowing what to say. You may be comfortable with saying you can’t drink, but you may not want to tell people yet why you are not drinking. That is fine if you don’t want to give the real reason, but a response lined up and ready.

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14 comments

  1. Emmanuel Buysse says:

    Good advice in this article, I think they are of vital importance to maintain our life in the best way possible and in the most simple way, I would like to share these tips with someone close to me who suffers from this situation.

    I like read blogs where advices are given to help people who suffer or have different kind of problems.

    I feel that now with the technological age in which we live it is easy to find help online, although always checking that it is a reliable page.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing these tips, I found them excellent.

    • Lynne says:

      I’m glad you found these tips helpful and a share is always most welcome of course! There are so many people that struggle over the festive season and blogging is the best way for me to spread the message! 

  2. jessie palaypay says:

    Wouldn’t most people who offer you drugs or alcohol in a social setting understand where your coming from if they knew you had an addiction problem and you declined them on their offer?

    I’ve heard of many former alcoholics who would still go out to bars with their friends but drink water instead.

    • Lynne says:

      Jessie you would be surprised how many people offer me alcohol even though everyone knows I am in recovery. I have had people argue with me that I am now cured so I can drink! I can’t understand why people would do that, but the fact is that they do. Thankfully I’ve got quite a bit of clean time now and I have learned a lot so I take the experience to teach people the truth when they do that. 

  3. Scott Hinkle says:

    I just wanted to comment and say thank you for offering your words of advice.  This topic is personal to me.  I grew up with an alcoholic father.  He struggled constantly with trying to quit.  His vices were liquor and cigarettes.  Time and time again I’d see him try to quit but only to fall back into the addiction of drinking.

    Posts like this would have gone a long way to helping him with his struggle.  Many of his relapses were during the holiday season.  I’d attend Al-Anon and Alateen meetings regularly, but I tended to be the quiet wall flower and not really participate as I felt socially awkward.

    My father passed from COPD (the cigarettes finally got him) a while back but I was so proud of him as he had finally kicked alcohol after trying time and time again for so many years.

    Please keep posting ways to help keep people from falling back into the trap.

    Thank you

    • Lynne says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your struggles with your father Scott, it must have been really hard growing up like that. One thing that I think of every single day and that I remember to be grateful for is that I was sober when I got married and started a family. It is one thing that keeps me sober – those little faces that adore me. I know if I relapse they will see a side of me that I would rather keep buried! 

      Smoking is a tough one to quit. I managed to do that 3 years ago, and honestly it was harder for me than the drugs and alcohol – or maybe the drugs and alcohol was easier because I was in rehab. Who knows but it took every bit of determination I have not to relapse when I quit smoking. Instead I ate and I still have to lose those extra kilos! 

  4. Kisumu says:

    I am a non-alcoholoic, actually I don’t even like it too much, so I haven’t even thought about this issue deeper and haven’t realized how difficult it can be to stay sober especially during the Festive season. You wrote at the end that people should have a few answers ready. I have been thinking since reading your article what people could answer if they did not want others to know about their struggle. Do you have any good idea?

    • Lynne says:

      Kisumu a few white lies here won’t hurt. I know people that say they are on medication so they can’t drink, or they say they are driving or feel ill…. anything to get out of the immediate danger even if it is not completely true 🙂 

      For me I always just said I am in recovery and I can’t drink – that usually stops people in their tracks 🙂 

  5. Alenka says:

    I found your article very moving. 

    I know it’s meant to be a practical guide, but you have so vividly described what people who are in recovery have to go through. 

    Excellent points on having a plan of action before the festive season starts. Also to have someone to talk to and to rely upon should the temptation be too much. 

    Having new experiences and creating new memories must be at times disorientating, but so important in the long run. 

    I send my prayers and good energy to all people who are in recovery and living a healthy life.

    • Lynne says:

      Alenka the first Christmas was awful, everything felt just so wrong. When I say it felt like something was missing that is an understatement. I was only a few weeks out of rehab when the festive season hit and I was only a few months clean. Thankfully I surrounded myself with the right people and I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous Christmas lunch on Christmas day and on New Years Eve I attended a Narcotics Anonymous party. The best and most fun part was as December hit I went with a biker in AA to my first AA rally in Stanford for the weekend. 

      Yes it was tough getting through that first festive season but I have great memories and they make me stronger! 

  6. Jim says:

    Hi Lynne. Thank you for your article on 5 tips for staying Sober over the festive season. What a timely reminder for this time of year. My father had a saying that he would tell us just about every time we were going out with out friends, he’d say “Remember, you are who you hang out with”. We were a dutch immigrant family so he said it with a heavy accent and I always thought he simply had no idea what he was saying. I was very wrong and I found out through experience exactly what he meant. I had some great fun loving friends who were into booze, parties and drugs. I loved them but after awhile I became uncomfortable with the direction in which there lives were heading, and mine. Fortunately I realized early enough what my father meant and I changed my lifestyle for the better. I parted company with the friends I loved, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. Unfortunately I never saw them again. if I had I might have made a difference with there life styles but I’ll never know. I found out only recently that one of  my closest friends had died a few years after I left the group from a drug overdose.  Your tips are a must for everyone to read.. Keep up the good work.  Jim

    • Lynne says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend that overdosed, I’ve also lost many friends over the years to drugs and alcohol. You are very fortunate to get out when you did, your life could have turned out very differently. 

  7. cjciganotto says:

    Hello Lynne,

    I never consume drugs or alcohol in excess. I like a good wine, in certain occasions. Always take it in moderation. Yes I was a smoker. I smoked more than one packet per day. I felt very bad, I had a permanent cough. Then make the decision to quit at 27 years of age. How to achieve it? I stopped going to places where people smoked. The days, the weeks, the months passed. My body began to stop coughing , very good performance in sports, I felt much better and much happier. Thank you!

    Claudio

    • Lynne says:

      Congrats on quitting smoking – nicotine addiction is really strong. I found out myself when I quit smoking 3 years ago! I am also much happier since quitting. 

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