New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers

How to Stay Sober During the Holidays

Dec 5, 2023 | Addiction, Alcohol, Substance Abuse

Entering early sobriety during the holiday season is a hurdle to overcome, as these festive times are often synonymous with celebration and, unfortunately, an abundance of alcohol. The pressures and expectations associated with holiday gatherings act as triggers for those in recovery. Even so, with the right mindset and strategies, it is entirely possible to navigate the holidays successfully and emerge stronger in your commitment to sobriety.

Understanding Triggers

The holiday season is rife with triggers for those in early recovery, even without parties and large social gatherings. Sometimes, it’s the intimate dinner with family that can be a trigger, particularly if alcohol was once part of the ritual. The ubiquitous presence of alcohol at all gatherings can evoke memories of past indulgences and potentially stir cravings. 

Recognizing and calling out these triggers is the first step toward managing them effectively. Being mindful of your emotions and surroundings is important as well, as it allows you to anticipate potential challenges and come up with some effective coping mechanisms.

6 Tips to Help You Stay Sober
1. Lean On Your Sober Support

One of the cornerstones of successful recovery is a robust support system. During the holidays, lean on your support network, whether it’s comprised of friends, family, or members of a recovery group. Communicate your concerns and feelings openly, and don’t hesitate to seek help when needed. Having someone to share your experiences with can provide invaluable guidance and encouragement during this potentially difficult time.

2. Create Sober Traditions

An effective way to deal with the holiday season is by establishing new, sober traditions. This could involve organizing sober events, participating in activities that do not revolve around alcohol, or even starting a new holiday tradition with friends who understand and support your commitment to sobriety. By taking part in these alternative activities, you not only create positive associations with the holidays but also reinforce your dedication to a sober lifestyle.

3. Put Your Sobriety First

The holidays often come with expectations, both internal and external. Understand that early sobriety is a lifelong commitment, and it’s okay to prioritize your mental health over societal pressures. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle, and don’t be afraid to say no to events or situations that may jeopardize your sobriety. Especially in the very early stages, your willpower is not likely to be fully developed, and that is okay. 

4. Focus on Mental and Physical Health

Prioritize a solid amount of sleep, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise to maintain your health, both mentally and physically. Taking care of yourself will put you in a better position to overcome the challenges of temptations and triggers. When you are feeling your best, you are less likely to make a rash decision or give in. Plus, you can anticipate that you will feel better than anyone who does choose to drink during the holidays. Hangovers and low-quality sleep are just a few of the negative effects associated with drinking.

5. Plan Your Responses

Anticipating and planning for situations where alcohol may be present is a key aspect of navigating early sobriety. Have a rehearsed response ready for when someone offers you a drink, and practice assertiveness in declining without feeling the need to justify your decision. Planning can empower you to handle challenging situations with confidence. If you are comfortable sharing that you’re in recovery, then do so. If not, do not feel obligated to overshare. You can tell family and friends whatever makes you feel secure, whether that is the whole truth or not.

6. Celebrate Your Milestones

Take time to acknowledge and celebrate the milestones you’ve achieved in your recovery. Whether it’s a month, three months, or a year of sobriety, recognizing your progress can boost your confidence and motivation. Share your achievements with your support network and consider treating yourself to a special reward as a tangible acknowledgment of your dedication.

Bring Your Own Alternatives Drinks

Embracing sobriety during the holidays doesn’t mean sacrificing the joy of festive drinks. Numerous delicious and satisfying alcohol-free alternatives can contribute to the celebratory atmosphere without compromising your commitment to recovery. Here are some creative and enjoyable options to consider:

  • Mocktails and Virgin Cocktails
  • Sparkling Water with Garnishes
  • Herbal Teas
  • Fruit Spritzers
  • Gourmet Coffee and Hot Chocolate
  • Non-Alcoholic Beer and Wine
  • Kombucha Cocktails
Find a Partner in Sobriety with New Dimensions

Navigating early sobriety during the holidays presents its own set of challenges, but with the right tools, it’s also an opportunity for growth. Making it through your first holiday sober is something to be immensely proud of, and with time, it will become easier. Let yourself feel the emotions that come up and then release them when you are ready. Grab a mocktail or another alcohol-free alternative and celebrate as you normally would. This way, you can begin to forge new traditions, without alcohol being at the center.

If you need a helping hand to get you through the holiday season, New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers is an outpatient treatment center with multiple locations throughout the Houston greater area. We are a dual diagnosis treatment center, meaning we focus on both the substance issue and any underlying mental health troubles that affect our patients.

Call us today to talk with one of our treatment specialists and learn about how we can help you on your recovery journey.



Kitzinger RH Jr, Gardner JA, Moran M, Celkos C, Fasano N, Linares E, Muthee J, Royzner G. Habits and Routines of Adults in Early Recovery From Substance Use Disorder: Clinical and Research Implications From a Mixed Methodology Exploratory Study. Subst Abuse. 2023 Feb 11;17:11782218231153843. doi: 10.1177/11782218231153843. PMID: 36798446; PMCID: PMC9926005.

Kushnir V, Cunningham JA. Event-specific drinking in the general population. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014 Nov;75(6):968-72. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2014.75.968. PMID: 25343654; PMCID: PMC4211338.

Melemis SM. Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery. Yale J Biol Med. 2015 Sep 3;88(3):325-32. PMID: 26339217; PMCID: PMC4553654.