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A Sober Christmas: Tips For Maintaining Sobriety At Family, Social, And Corporate Holiday Gatherings

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

March 6, 2019

Staying the path of sobriety is no easy task. This is especially true for people in the early days of recovery, and even more so during the holidays. At a time when gatherings with family, friends, and work are constantly happening, keeping true to your recovery plan may be difficult. To give yourself a head start, here are some tips for maintaining sobriety this holiday season.

Tips For Maintaining Sobriety

  1. Fill every single day. Whether you are working, decorating, meeting with family or friends, or enjoying any of the local or larger community events, there are many activities to keep you busy and distracted. On that note, try to veer away from substance-laden environments, and spend most of your time with people who strongly support your recovery efforts.
  2. Reach out to family and friends. It may be most helpful to find those close to you who support you and form a text or email chain, especially when attending family gatherings, social outings, or work events. Reach out to one of these people or to the group of them when you are struggling. They may help you to feel love and support, and may aid in reminding you of your goals.
  3. Keep in mind your recovery program. Begin each day asking yourself what you can apply from your program for that day, i.e. “What are my goals for today?” Stay in contact with your program director or sponsor to help ensure you can do this.
  4. Be proactive—join a group. Though it can be hard for some people to open up to a group of people, this is one of the better things you could do. Maybe you will be uncomfortable at first, but at a time when you need support the most, you may find that having a group of people who understand your struggles, past and present, will be reassuring.
  5. Avoid trigger locations. For some, just being in the presence of a place where they previously abused substances can make them powerless to resist urges to do it again. If this includes family gatherings or outings with friends, avoid those events, even if just for a while. Instead, find new places, substance-free places, to spend your time.

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  6. Try a new activity, like volunteering. The holidays are a great time to volunteer, as so many companies can use the help. In doing so, you may reap the reward of feeling satisfaction at helping others while also keeping yourself busy and away from the pull of addiction. Filling your time with volunteering may also give you an excuse if you need to stay away from certain family events or social gatherings where you worry you will run into triggers.
  7. Begin a new tradition. Holidays are a great time to start a new tradition of your own that you may continue for years to come. Seek out your community’s holiday activities, see a play, go to a concert, or just drive around and enjoy the sights of the season.
  8. Care for your health. This may seem to go without saying, but it is so important to any recovery. Eat a balanced diet and make sure you are getting exercise. Avoid winter blues by staying active; boredom and lack of things to do are sobriety’s enemy.
  9. Don’t overdo it. Many of us get carried away with the holidays, eating too many sweets, staying out late, maybe even giving less to our responsibilities and more to the finer things. This is typical. But for someone who is newly recovering, it is important to uphold your health. Don’t let social pressures make you feel as if you have to do it all. Try to get enough rest, avoid too many unhealthy snacks, and focus on your daily tasks and activities.
  10. Count your blessings. No, really. Keep a journal, a grocery list, or a notebook wherein you recount all the things for which you are grateful. Sound like too much? Begin by challenging yourself to find three things you enjoyed or appreciated about the day. The visual will help you to solidify your gratitude, while the act of writing gives you something to do.
  11. Listen to your body’s needs. If you are feeling down, feeling lonely, or just need to talk about things, call someone close to you. If you can’t reach anyone, go for a walk. Exercise will release endorphins to help you feel at least temporarily better, and the walk will get you out of the situation.
  12. Focus on each day, one day at a time. Sobriety can be a long road, but it is a worthwhile one. While it helps to make sure that your holiday season is filled with activity, it is best to focus each day on the time at hand. Recognize the freedom sobriety affords you, your new health of mind and of body, and all that you have available to you because you overcame substance abuse. Try not to focus on how you will get through the week, the month, the upcoming years. Look ahead only to the next hour, the rest of the day, and realize the opportunities that await you. Sometimes just focusing on your next craving, desire, or urge to use and committing yourself to not use that time is the best way to stay sober in early recovery.

Find Help For Sobriety

Seeking sobriety is not an easy feat, and it is one that requires constant vigilance. If you know someone who is struggling this season, help support them by applying these tips. To learn more about sobriety, treatment options, or substance abuse information, contact us today at

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