5 Quick Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays


The holidays can be a trying time for those in recovery.

Alcohol and drug use is often associated with the holiday spirit and celebration, making it difficult for recovering addicts to abstain or maintain their sobriety during the festive season.

Article at a Glance:  

  • Alcohol and drug use is often associated with the holiday spirit and celebration
  • Having a plan for temptation is key
  • Self care should be a priority. Always prioritize yourself and remember that in just a few days, the holidays will pass. Your sobriety is most important.
  • Know your limits and triggers, even if that includes family!


If you are seeking refuge from drug addiction, you can contact More Life Recovery 1 (888) 825-8689 for 24/7 customer support.


1. Have a plan.

The most important thing is to have a plan for what you will do if you feel tempted to drink. Make plans with friends ahead of time, or sign up for a sober holiday event.
If you know the hardest part is going to be going to Great Aunt Betsy’s house, plan to go somewhere in between or directly after.
This will either allow you to leave before things get hairy, or have something great to look forward to. This can really change your whole outlook on the day. Instead of having one large expectation to live up to, you now have a bunch of fun things.


2. Double up on support!

Maybe you went from going to meetings every single day, to once a week, to a few times a month. These holiday months are NOT the time to slack on the 12 Step Program or your meetings! A great app you can download and use on your phone is called Meeting Guide. There are over 100,000 A.A Meetings listed on this app with information that is updated two times each day. Don’t make excuses! You can get through this season if you just amp up that support! Double down on meetings, sober friends, activities, exercise, and self care. Whatever makes you thrive in sobriety, do it ten-fold during the holidays.
If you are leaving town, it may be a good time to check online, or use the app to find local meetings at your destination. Committing to going to a meeting every day or every other day during this time might feel more necessary during the holidays. 


3. Look out for your triggers.

With the holidays around the corner, many people are faced with the challenge of staying sober. It’s a time where friends and family gather to celebrate. Emotional triggers can be rough during this time. Significantly, the holiday season is one of the most stressful and emotional times of the year. With ever growing demands from our loved ones, financial burdens that come with gift giving and stress to have everything go as planned, it is no wonder people struggle with this time.
With all of the new things tossed into the mix, our routines can become nonexistent, and our anxiety or stress can skyrocket.
If your sobriety is on the line, teach yourself patience to walk out of situation, and do not feel guilty, even if you need to walk away from your judgmental Uncle at the table. We all have our limits, and it is important to respect yourself and your boundaries.

According to AddictionCenter, triggers can be external and internal:

Triggered: External And Internal Triggers

Both can strongly impact the individual feeling the result of the trigger. External and internal triggers include:

  • Shame/guilt/anger/regret
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Inconsistency
  • A loss of control
  • Heartbreak, job loss or grief
  • Stress or fear
  • Feeling unsafe, feeling misunderstood
  • Specific places (home, streets, cities, countries)
  • Trauma/PTSD and abuse
  • Feeling judged, feeling attacked, feeling invalidated


4. Eat the food!

Alcohol consumption is a big part of the holidays, whether it’s celebrating with friends or family. You may be tempted to drink for many reasons, but there are plenty of tricks to get through it. If socializing is your challenge, food can help you forget about drinking. After all, what would Christmas be without the amazing food and desserts?
It’s hard to go wrong when you can take joy in the delicious and seasonal foods around you. Did you know that if you have food and a drink in your hand, people are significantly less likely to offer you more! You can take this approach all night if it helps you. Hold an appetizer in the beginning, a soda in between, dinner when it’s time and finally get some desserts! Without people pushing drinks on you, you won’t feel so inclined to slip up during the Holiday season.


5. Create your own traditions.

If you grew up with the wine flowing during holidays, beer in the fridge and everyone laughing into the evening, this one is for you. One of the reasons we find the Holiday season so hard may be because of tradition. Tradition can include egg-nog, or holiday spirits and celebrations that relay heavily on alcohol or drugs in general.
You might just miss the nostalgia of the tradition you are used to. This year, consider making your own timeless tradition instead! Instead of going to a party you know will be flowing with temptations, host your own party this year.
Invite all of your sober friends and family and get in the spirit (without the spirits).
This is truly a time for celebration, you are celebrating the best time of your life. Whether you are new to sobriety, and this is your first Holiday season, a seasoned Pro, or somewhere in between, you should celebrate your amazing new life.



The holidays can put a lot of pressure on people. Alcohol may be more readily available and temptations to drink will increase. It’s important to plan ahead and set out some rules for yourself before the holidays start. Try doing things like going for walks, cooking, or taking up hobbies that don’t involve drinking.

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