We’re in the thick of the holidays, a time of good cheer and celebrations. When you’re in recovery, a holiday party can seem like a minefield you have to pick through that’s full of triggers and stressful situations. A misstep could mean relapse, but you can set yourself up for success now and into the new year with a bit of knowledge and some planning.
If you’ve been invited to a holiday party that you think will pose too much risk to your sobriety, then skip it. Some gatherings, such as office parties and family functions, are ones that you just can’t miss. In these situations, knowing that alcohol will be present allows you to plan ahead and manage your social obligations by following these easy tips.
Don’t Linger: If you must attend a work or family gathering, it’s smart to get there early and leave early. You’re making an appearance, which satisfies your obligation, but you aren’t staying for the duration. Typically, as a gathering wears on, drinking ramps up. If you get in and out of the holiday party early, then you’re safely removed before situations become too much to manage.
Bring a Friend: Bring a sober friend with you.1 If you have a sober friend alongside you, you won’t be the only one not drinking or indulging in other activities that could jeopardize your sobriety. If you find yourself experiencing cravings, your friend can remind you of your goals and give you advice for how to deal with the situation. If you can’t bring someone with you, have a friend you can call or text on standby if you need support at any point.
Serve Yourself: Be sure to serve yourself your own beverages. Don’t ask someone else to bring you a drink or take an already prepared drink from someone else. On purpose or innocently, someone could give you alcohol. Make your own drinks to ensure you don’t unintentionally drink alcohol.
Keep Your Hands Full: Keep a beverage in your hand.2 You’ll prevent people from wondering why you aren’t drinking or asking you if you’d like a drink. Put a slice of lemon or lime in your drink to make it look like a cocktail.
Be Prepared: If people do ask questions about your recovery, be prepared with a succinct answer. There’s no need to go into your history. It’s nobody’s business, but some people will ask anyway. A short, “I’d rather not drink, I have lots to do tomorrow” should suffice. If someone becomes insistent, remember that you’re not obliged to discuss your recovery and walk away.
Know Where the Door Is: Make a fast exit if the holiday party becomes too intense for you to safely participate in. Be prepared to do so by having your car keys or cab fare readily available at all times. Thank your host and leave calmly and quietly.
Stay Focused on Your Sobriety
The most important thing in your life is your sobriety. Without your sobriety, nothing else works, so preserve your progress by having a smart plan to enjoy holiday parties. Setting yourself up for success beforehand helps you enjoy the holidays while staying sober.
You’ll be glad you enjoyed your holidays safely and soberly, protected yourself from the risks of relapse and entered the new year in a healthy and sober state. Happy holidays!