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Surviving Your First Sober Christmas

An alcohol-free Christmas

The holiday season can be especially hard on those in recovery. A period of festivities is often characterised by drinking and lots of food. Even those who don’t usually drink to excess may find themselves pushing their limits around this time.

If you’re newly sober then the chances are, the thought of Christmas is filling you with dread. There are parties to navigate, family pressures to deal with, and lots of food and drink. When it seems like you’re the only person not drinking, it’s easy to feel left out.

However, with preparation and practice, you can enjoy a Christmas free from alcohol and other substances.


Start new traditions

Family traditions are often a big deal over Christmas and New Year, many of which might be centered around drinking or going out. If your family or close circle of friends gather round the fire to play drinking games or spend New Year’s Eve out on the town, you probably won’t feel comfortable participating. Instead, why not suggest new traditions that involve lots of sober fun? Like a trip to the theatre over Christmas, mocktails for Boxing Day breakfast, or a long family walk after dinner.


Think about your response

Alcohol free student bar

Refusing a drink should be viewed in the same way as someone who doesn’t eat meat. So why is it people question you so much when you decline one? Those closest to you might know not to offer you a drink, but what about your work colleagues? Or your aunt who’s come over for the winter break? If you don’t feel comfortable enough opening up about your substance use disorder, it’s a good idea to have a response prepared. This way, you won’t be caught off guard and don’t have to think up an excuse on the spot.


Know your triggers

Whether you’ve been sober for six months or six weeks, it’s important you don’t become complacent when deciding what is and isn’t acceptable to you. Depending on what stage of recovery you’re at, you may not feel completely comfortable with being in a social setting where alcohol is available, such as a pub or bar. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to make alternative suggestions. It’s extremely important that you don’t go along with plans to avoid causing disruption. The consequences could be detrimental to yourself and your sobriety.


Avoid isolation

Just because you’re sober this Christmas, it doesn’t mean you can’t still participate in the festivities and enjoy yourself. In fact, one of the worst things you can do during this time is isolate yourself from others. Isolation often leads to boredom and discontent, the perfect recipe for relapse. Instead, plan some festive fun. You may have made friends in recovery that are in the same boat as you and understand your situation. Having people to speak to during this time is invaluable when it comes to maintaining sobriety around Christmas.


Plan your days

Speaking of planning, if you’re taking a few days off over the festive period, it’s a good idea to plan your days so that you know what to expect. As well as putting time aside for friends and family, you should also make a point of factoring in some time for yourself. Self-care is extremely important in recovery. Taking care of your mental health is just as is important as your physical health.


Focus on the positive

Although at first, it may feel as though you’re missing out, being sober also gives you a lot of freedom. You can leave gatherings whenever you want, without having to rely on others to take you home. You can wake up the next morning and start your day without the hangover from hell or a cocaine comedown. You won’t wake up with feelings of dread and anxiety trying to remember if you acted out the night before or embarrassed yourself in any way.


If you need more advice, help or support, do not hesitate to contact Which Rehab today where our experienced counsellors on are hand every step of the way.  Call us on 0800 170 7000.