The holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness. For someone who is in recovery, however, the holidays can represent stress and isolation. Sometimes a person can feel isolated from others because they have prioritized their sobriety and are avoiding events where they would be tempted to use drugs and alcohol again.

Fortunately, there are many ways that a person in recovery can connect with others to prevent isolation and safely enjoy the holidays.

Socializing While Sober at Holiday Events

If you choose to attend a holiday event, a few simple preparations can help you to make the most of your mingling while prioritizing your recovery.

    1. Arrange an Exit Strategy

Having a friend or family member on standby, or even an app on your phone like Uber or Lyft, can allow you to make a quick exit if you attend a party and find yourself uncomfortable or surrounded by too many triggers.

    1. Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Bringing sparkling cider or another non-alcoholic beverage of your choice can give you something to toast with and prevent you from having to turn down the alcoholic beverages available. Having a non-alcoholic drink readily available may also encourage others to enjoy a non-alcoholic alternative.

    1. Have Some Easy Answers Ready

You don’t have to offer a long explanation as to why you may not drink at an event. Simply saying “I don’t feel like it” or “I’m the designated driver,” are sufficient answers for most people. Having these responses prepared can help you feel prepared and less uncomfortable in social situations where others may be unaware that you are in recovery.

Maintain Your Healthy Habits

Taking care of yourself through rest, healthy eating and exercising are just as important—if not more so—during the holidays. 1 They are part of your self-care routine that helps to maintain your well-being and your sense of fulfillment in recovery. Maintaining healthy habits in these areas of your life can help stabilize other areas of your life, including your sobriety.

Plan Your Own Sober Event

Just because you are invited to holiday gatherings doesn’t mean you are obliged to attend them. You can politely decline, and those inviting you should understand, especially if you RSVP in a sufficient amount of time. Instead, plan a smaller get-together with a handful of friends. Having an alternative event can help prevent you from feeling isolated, without causing the anxiety that can come from attending a big party.

Get Together With Others in Recovery

Many organizations that focus on recovery offer holiday events for their members, such as Christmas Alkathons and New Year’s Alkathons. If you will be traveling, you can also locate meetings in your area or plan on attending an online meeting.

Recovery and the Holidays

Sometimes thinking of the holidays as just another day of the week can help put into perspective that a person’s recovery does not have to be jeopardized by one single day.  With some mental preparation and regular reminders of why you have prioritized your sobriety, you can successfully navigate the holidays without feeling a sense of isolation.