When in recovery from substance abuse, there’s never an easy time of year. No matter what the season, temptation can be found everywhere. Nevertheless, the holiday season can be especially challenging for those working to keep addiction in check. Here are important tips for maintain sobriety during the most challenging holidays of the year.

Be honest with yourself

During the holiday season, it’s not unusual to be bombarded with invitations to parties and other celebrations. While this is a welcome diversion steeped in tradition for some individuals, for those who have entered addiction recovery, alcohol-saturated events can often prove to be unbearable affairs.

The most important thing for those in recovery is to be honest with themselves. If they haven’t yet reached a point recovery where they are prepared to endure the temptations associated with holiday parties, do not attend. People in recovery may feel a sense of obligation, but remember that the primary priority should be continued recovery. Nothing is worth compromising sobriety. If interacting with a certain relative will trigger  addiction, it’s alright to not to attend the holiday event; after all, there’s always next year.

Be prepared to decline

If deciding to attend a holiday party, prepare to turn down proffered drinks. For some people, this means specifically scripting a prepared response. They might even want to rehearse what to say if offered a drink.

Recovery is no one’s business (unless one decides to make the decision to inform them), and no one is owed an explanation. If someone in recovery feels more comfortable giving a different reason they can’t have a drink, they shouldn’t hesitate — whether it’s being in the midst of  a cleanse or starting a New Year’s resolution a week or two early.

Bring your own options

Another option is to bring your own food or beverage to the gathering. This can be particularly helpful for New Year’s Eve celebrations: when everyone else is toasting champagne, having a bottle of sparkling apple cider can allow someone in recovery to take part in the festivities without engaging in alcohol.

Even if they don’t bring personal refreshments, alcohol-free options may be available. A Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers resembles a mixed drink but contains no intoxicants, and ginger beer is a flavorful option that’s alcohol-free. Even if they aren’t thirsty, they can consider one of these options, since others will be less likely to offer an alcoholic drink when there is already a beverage in hand.

Rely on your sober network

The holidays can be hard for anyone who is working through recovery. Fortunately, because everyone in a sober network is dealing with similar issues during this time of year, it’s important rely on one another for support during this challenging season.

Consider bringing a sober buddy to the party. This way, you will be able to rely on one another for support, while also holding each other accountable. If this isn’t possible, arrange to text or call a sober buddy or mentor during the time spent at the party. If a mentor, or sober buddy isn’t available, consider contacting a… (continue reading)