How to Stay Sober During the Holidays

tips for staying sober

The holiday season is here, a time for festive gatherings, exchanging gifts, and raising toasts. While these celebrations are joyful, they can pose challenges for those in recovery. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, individuals in recovery may feel isolated.

Whether a person suffers from addiction or not, the holidays are one of the most difficult times to remain sober. Because of how difficult it is to stay sober during the holidays, those who do suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs) must take the proper measures to help themselves be able to cope with the holidays effectively.

At Golden Gate Recovery, our Bay Area rehab center understands how difficult times can be, especially around the holiday season. Our specialists will teach you or a loved one effective techniques on how to stay sober and effectively cope with addiction triggers. If you find yourself navigating social events while abstaining from drugs and alcohol, know that you are not alone.

Reasons Why Holidays Often Cause People to Abuse Alcohol and Drugs

There are numerous different reasons why holidays cause people to abuse alcohol and drugs more than other days in the year. One reason why people struggle to stay sober during the holidays is because of all the celebrations that occur at that time of year, as celebrations often lead to celebratory drinks and people abusing drugs to get high.

When everyone at a holiday party or event is drinking alcohol or using drugs, it can cause those with substance addiction issues to feel pressure to do so too. That’s why it’s so important for those who suffer from substance addiction to stay strong and learn how to stay sober and effectively cope with social pressure.

Another factor that can cause individuals who suffer from substance addiction to relapse during the holidays is the stress that often comes with the holiday season. For example, some people may feel stressed about having to see and socialize with all of their family and friends during the holidays. This is especially true if that person is responsible for hosting the holidays. For others, holiday stress primarily comes from having to cook and entertain everyone during that time of year.

Some people even experience anxiety or depression during the holiday season. Such anxious and depressive feelings during the winter holiday season can come from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Others who suffer from anxiety and depression during the holidays may do so because they don’t have close family and friends to spend time with and thus, feel lonely.  As a result, such people may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope.

Holidays That Often Challenge Sobriety

how to stay sober

The bigger and more social the holiday, the more likely that it may act as an addiction trigger for someone in recovery. It is for these exact reasons that Christmas and New Year’s Eve are two of the holidays that people abuse alcohol and drugs the most. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two of the most dangerous months of the year for drug and alcohol-related deaths are December and January.

The third month that is most dangerous for drug and alcohol-related deaths is March. This is likely due to the big celebratory drinking holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. Additional holidays that people often drink more during include Cinco de Mayo, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and even holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day.

According to a report issued by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, over 450,000 monitored DUI offenders increased their drinking rates by 33% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, even though they knew that they were being monitored. This is just further evidence to prove that individuals should be especially vigilant about learning how to stay sober during the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holiday seasons.

6 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays

Because staying sober during the holidays is so difficult, it’s important to be prepared and have a plan for how to remain sober during this time. Some of the best tips for staying sober during the holidays are listed below.

1. UpKeep Your Recovery Routine

One thing that individuals in recovery from substance addiction can do to maintain their sobriety is to keep their recovery routine. A recovery routine includes going to one’s regularly scheduled sobriety support group meetings. One common example of a support group meeting that people in recovery should routinely attend is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Other routines that help people in recovery from substance addiction maintain their sobriety include waking up early and exercising and/or meditating or meal prepping. Just living by a strict and productive daily routine often helps those in recovery upkeep their sobriety. Thus, regardless of what is going on this holiday season, individuals in recovery from addiction should aim to upkeep the healthy routines that they have created for themselves since becoming sober.

2. Acknowledge Your Addiction Triggers

All individuals in recovery from addiction have certain people, places, or things that trigger their desire to use substances. Oftentimes, individuals must face these triggers when around their family members and friends during the holidays. Thus, one must acknowledge his or her addiction triggers and discover healthy ways to cope with them this holiday season.

3. Discuss Your Addiction Triggers with Your Loved Ones

Once you’ve acknowledged your addiction triggers to yourself, make them known to the family members and friends that you’ll be celebrating the holidays with. That way, they can make a conscious effort to not put you in situations that may trigger your desire to abuse substances.

4. Practice Your Coping Mechanisms

It’s important to have a healthy way to cope with addiction triggers on lock before facing the chaos that is the holidays. Thus, make sure that you have several coping mechanisms that you’re confident will help prevent you from turning to substance use when faced with addiction triggers during the holidays.

5. Make Sure That You Have Non-Alcoholic Drink Options at Your Holiday Celebrations

One simple tip for how to stay sober this holiday season is to make sure to always have non-alcoholic drink beverages that you like at holiday celebrations. If there is uncertainty that there will be good-tasting non-alcoholic drink options at the holiday celebrations, bring your own. That way, you can be certain that you’ll always have a non-alcoholic beverage that you can drink on hand. 

6. Have a Holiday Escape Plan

Sometimes, the best way to cope with addiction triggers is to remove yourself from the situation. Thus, one of the tips for staying sober during the holidays is to know your limit and have a holiday escape plan. That way you always know that if worse comes to worse and the addiction triggers are too overwhelming, you still have a way to prevent yourself from succumbing to substance use.

What to Do in Case of a Relapse

Sometimes, even when doing everything that one can to maintain sobriety, relapse still occurs. When this happens, remain positive and take the necessary actions to get back on the path to recovery. For most, this means undergoing medical detox and returning to a rehab program if possible.

Learn How to Stay Sober During the Holidays at Golden Gate Recovery

staying sober during the holidays

Golden Gate Recovery is a grassroots organization in California that focuses on helping men who are early in recovery achieve long-term sobriety. The ultimate goal of our treatment programs here at Golden Gate Recovery is to ensure that our male patients have a smooth transition from 30-day inpatient treatment to everyday living environments.

Here at Golden Gate Recovery, we offer partial hospitalization program (PHP) treatment and intensive outpatient program (IOP) treatment as aftercare options for men who are early in recovery. We also offer aftercare treatment services for our male patients who are early in recovery.

Here at Golden Gate Recovery, our professionally staffed and comprehensive treatment programs include individual, group, and family therapy sessions. These therapy sessions can come in the form of everything from cognitive-behavioral therapy to dialectical behavior therapy, to psycho-education therapy, psycho-dynamic therapy, and more.

We also offer experiential therapy, regularly scheduled activities, regular drug and alcohol testing, community involvement, online support to our clients, and an effective 12-step program. This is on top of all of our treatment programs being individually tailored to meet client needs.

Here at Golden Gate Recovery, we even offer sober living services to our patients with 24/7 care and accountability. Our sober living homes offer accountability services by providing our patients with regular updates on their progress since receiving treatment. Even the house managers of our sober living homes provide accountability to our sober living patients by giving them daily alcohol and drug testing.

If you are a man who is new to recovery and in need of extra aftercare treatment to cope with the holidays, look no further than Golden Gate Recovery. We have all the resources to help you maintain your sobriety throughout the holidays.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact Golden Gate Recovery today.

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