Tips for Sobriety During the Holidays

Some of the greatest joy and inner freedom comes from recovery. It is important to protect yourself from relapse during the holiday season. There will be more alcohol, excitement, and emotions than usual.

Here are 12 tips to support your sobriety over the next few months:

  1. Plan Ahead: Plan on taking your own vehicle to every party. This allows you to remain in control of your night by having the ability to leave when you want to. We also recommend taking a sober companion with you for support.
  2. Make Self Care a Priority During the Holidays: The holiday season is great for getting to see family. However, you should also celebrate the holidays by taking care of your body, mind, and soul. We cannot be our best selves if we are depleted. Give yourself the gift of time for yourself, exercise, meditation, and so on. Proper nutrition and sleep will help make you feel stronger, both physically and mentally.
  3. Increase Support: It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the holiday season. So, as you plan each day, make sure you set aside time for support. This means set aside time to meet with a counselor or a support group. If you are traveling to another city, try to schedule a phone meeting or find a support group where you are traveling. Visiting new groups in new cities can be fun!
  4. Know Your Limits of Family Time: We all have our own crazy aunt or uncle. We all have someone who is going to criticize your career choice or relationship status. There may even be family that insists you try their favorite holiday drink. All of this stress can lead us to rationalize and convince ourselves that we are entitled to just one Stay strong. Surround yourself with supportive loved ones who are going to help you in your recovery. And, if you feel like you just can’t be around the family anymore, you can leave. Put your sobriety first.
  5. Use Props: When you arrive at a party, immediately go get yourself a non-alcoholic beverage and keep it in your hand. Whether it’s sparkling water or soda, others will be less inclined to push drinks on you. And, the truth is, most people never really notice what’s in your glass.
  6. Eat Well: Just because it’s the holiday season, doesn’t mean we should overindulge. Stuffing ourselves with too much sugar, carbs, and fat-laden foods usually does not make us feel good and healthy. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t have a piece of pie, but rather watch how much pie you eat. Go ahead and have some turkey and mashed potatoes. But don’t over-do it.
  7. Celebrate Your Relationships: As the holiday season approaches, take the time to appreciate your friends and family. Instead of making your gatherings about drinking and eating food, intentionally make it about the people. Show up early to help with preparations. Stay to help clean up. Or just get together and forget the food. Just be there to appreciate each other.
  8. Serve Others: Look for ways to think about and serve others this holiday season. Whether that means making a special family recipe to take to friends, doing the dishes for your family, or donating your time to a lonely neighbor. These spiritual opportunities allow us to spread happiness and cheer to other people.
  9. Create New Traditions: If your old traditions revolved around alcohol, create a new one. Celebrate the fact that you are in recovery and reestablishing your life. Maybe your new tradition is a sober, festive gathering for you and your friends in recovery.
  10. Avoid Relapse Triggers: Emotional triggers are the most significant relapse triggers. The holiday season is a very emotional season, whether you’re in recovery or not. Our normal routines are disrupted, there are increased demands from friends and family, and so much additional stress. All of this can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, anger and depression. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. They never go the way we plan. It is perfectly acceptable to say “no” to a party or a situation.
  11. Make Sobriety Your Top Priority: Honestly, all holiday parties are optional. If you don’t think the party is going to be good for your recovery, it’s okay to not go. You can politely decline the party invite. However, if you still feel like you would like to see the host of the party, make a lunch date for another day.
  12. Focus on the Spirit of the Season: The commercial world puts so much pressure on decorations, alcohol, and shopping. It sells us the lie that happiness can be found in those three things. That’s not the case. Regardless of your faith or spiritual beliefs, the holidays are really just about giving and gratitude. When we focus on these things, the other feelings of resentment, disappointment, worry, depression and so on show up far less often.


Staying clean and sober during the holiday season is possible! It can be a great time if we direct our attention towards the people and activities that help us on our road to recovery. Go out, have fun, and enjoy your sobriety with those that matter most.