Christmas can be a challenging time if you’re a recovering alcoholic. From family dinners to office parties, it can feel like alcohol is everywhere! If you’re the only one not drinking during Christmas, you might feel left out. And seeing everyone indulging in drinks can lead to serious cravings. You want to enjoy Christmas as much as everyone else, so you may start to convince yourself that you can drink because Christmas only comes once a year. Breaking your sobriety is extremely risky. One drink can easily turn into two, and then more. Before you know it, you could be back at square one, struggling with a drinking problem again. To avoid this, it’s important to prepare for the holidays. Christmas cocktails don’t have to tempt you! Here are some tips to enjoy the holiday season while maintaining your sobriety.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
You don’t need to shut yourself off from the world during Christmas to avoid alcohol. While being around others who are drinking can be difficult, you have the power to stay resolute and disciplined. As a recovering alcoholic, you may start to rationalize having a drink. You might tell yourself:
- “It’s only one drink.”
- “I don’t want to be boring.”
- “I want to fit in.”
- “I can handle it; I’m in control now.”
It’s crucial that you counteract these thought processes with a down-to-earth perspective. Understand what alcoholism means. As a recovering alcoholic, it’s unlikely that you can moderate your drinking. If you could have just one drink, you wouldn’t be working on recovery. If you feel tempted to join the Christmas drinking, think about the long-term consequences. Think about how far you’ve come, how difficult recovery is, and what you would lose (and have to regain) if you relapsed. When you can weigh the benefits and risks of drinking during the holiday season, it will become easier to reject alcohol. Getting drunk simply isn’t worth it.
2. Explain Yourself
If you’re celebrating Christmas with your family, they probably understand that you’re a recovering alcoholic and won’t pressure you to drink. This makes things easier than at Christmas office parties or in bars, where co-workers, new friends, and strangers may not be aware of your personal journey. If you’ve been sober for some time, then you may already have some short explanations at hand as to why you’re not drinking. Some recovering alcoholics don’t like to sugar-coat their choice and tell people straightforwardly that they are ex-alcoholics and need to stay sober. If this makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable, you’re not obligated to be blunt nor share any information that makes you feel vulnerable. You may also worry about people prying into your history of alcoholism and recovery. Try out one of these explanations for your sobriety:
- “I’m allergic to alcohol.”
- “Drinking makes me feel sick.”
- “I’m on medication, so I can’t drink.”
- “It just doesn’t agree with me.”
- “I quit drinking for health reasons.”
- “I don’t enjoy drinking/getting drunk anymore.”
- “I can’t stand being hungover.”
- “I have a meeting, long drive, [insert other responsibility] in the morning.”
3. Have an Exit Strategy
If you know it’s going to be tiresome constantly explaining why you’re not drinking or you don’t trust yourself to be around alcohol for too long, only stay at holiday parties for a certain amount of time. Decide before you go when you’ll leave, and stick to it. If you think you’ll have trouble exiting when the time comes, recruit an ally who can keep you honest. To make your exit, use a variation of one of the explanations above, or simply say your goodbyes and leave!
4. Don’t Buy Alcohol as a Gift
You may not be drinking, but you probably have friends who do. Even though they might appreciate it, avoid buying booze for someone as a Christmas gift. This involves having alcohol in your house, where it may be too tempting to resist. When you don’t have alcohol in the house, you have to complete a couple steps to get some: Step 1: Leave the house. Step 2: Get in your car. Step 3: Drive to the store. Step 4: Purchase the alcohol. Step 5: Drive home. Putting obstacles like these in your way can help you maintain your willpower. When you decide to buy alcohol as a Christmas gift, suddenly these steps seem worth it. By that time, the alcohol is already in your house, ready for you to drink it. There are many other gift ideas! Think about what your family member or friend would truly enjoy or really appreciate. A Christmas present with a personal touch is much better than a bottle of alcohol.
5. Bring a Non-Alcoholic Drink
Why rely on the drinks that are offered at holiday gatherings? Bring your own non-alcoholic favorite(s)! While your host may recognize your needs and stock up on non-alcoholic beverages for you, you’ll be playing it safe and contributing something. Some tasty options include:
- Non-alcoholic beer
- Hot chocolate
- Lime and soda
- Holiday punch
6. Focus on the Positive, and Relax
As a recovering alcoholic, you may be dreading Christmas. You may already be imagining how miserable you’ll be surrounded by people drinking to excess. You might believe you can’t handle it and start thinking of how you can bail on Christmas dinner or the annual office Christmas party. But this isn’t a healthy, long-term coping strategy. You don’t want to miss out on festivities forever or deal with anxiety when you feel you can’t cope with them. One of the most essential tips for surviving the holiday season is to focus on the positive and approach Christmas with a relaxed mindset. You don’t have to be drunk on holiday cocktails to enjoy food, company, the giving and receiving of gifts, playing with your nieces and nephews, a Christmas movie marathon, or any other festive tradition. Trust that you have built effective coping mechanisms and that you can be merry without drinking.
7. Find an Outpatient Recovery Program
If you struggle during Christmastime, find an outpatient recovery program! It’s important to be honest and accepting of your needs and vulnerabilities. An outpatient recovery program can be a highly effective way to help you regain control over your cravings. They can help you build and maintain healthy coping strategies when you find it difficult to manage on your own. If you need a little extra support during the holiday season, is here for you! We have alcohol recovery programs that fit your lifestyle. Call us at 800-717-3019 for a confidential assessment today.