Celebrating the New Year Sober

Celebrating the New Year Sober

The New Year is upon us and everyone wants to say GOODBYE to 2020! Those who are in recovery understand that holidays can be difficult which poses the concerns surrounding bringing in the New Year sober.

What a year this has been—and that’s just referring to the pandemic, weather-related disasters, and the political upheaval within our country. There are still numerous individuals out there—including many of you who are reading this—who have had an unfortunate 2020 or other reasons. There has been loss, struggles with addiction, time spent in treatment away from family and friends, anxiety, money worries, and grief. It’s clear that we are all ready for a fresh start in 2021.

Ringing in the new year in the past has likely involved using substances—if you are an addict, that is. While a lot of the adult population has a drink or two…or more, on New Year’s Eve, if you are actively in recovery, you must realize that is their normal but not your normal any longer.

Individuals who are sober have to do things a little differently in regards to the New Year than the typical person. They need to plan ahead more often, try their best to avoid triggers, and identify and utilize coping strategies when they feel overwhelmed and tempted to use substances. Those with a drug or alcohol dependence celebrating the new year will definitely need to plan ahead and make choices to support their recovery; relapsing is not a goal for 2021.

Just because you are in recovery or in an outpatient alcohol or substance treatment program doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time sober while ringing in the new year.

Check out these alternate NYE ideas to help you stick to your treatment plan.

Celebrate during the day!

Do things throughout the day to celebrate the end of the year.

  • Challenge your body and mind by going on an adventure.
  • Take a NYE (day)-hike with family or friends.
  • Get brunch with a faux-mosa and explore a museum or people-watch at a park.
  • Check online to see if your town/city has any daytime events.
  • Gather friends together to do something random: axe-throwing, escape the room, bowling, go see a movie, find something on Groupon to do.

Host a game night!

Be as appropriate (with Scrabble) or inappropriate (with Cards Against Humanity) as you’d like—you can still have fun either way!

  • Have everyone bring a game.
  • Ask guests to bring a snack.
  • Also ask guests to bring a favorite mocktail (unless this may be triggering).
  • Decorate with NYE trimmings and hand out party favors.
  • Play fun and electric music.
  • Laugh hysterically; dance insanely; and treasure the moments!

If you want to plan ahead mentally—read up on Coping Skills to Help You Stay Sober Over the Holidays.

Let go of the hurt!

Sometimes you need to do something cathartic to be able to let go. There are things that happened in 2020 (and earlier) that we all need to heal from. Allow yourself to grieve, help yourself accept, and let yourself move on.

  • Write down a list of things that you want to metaphorically let go of.


  • The hurt you have due to an ex.
  • The loss of someone due to COVID or addiction.
  • The grief you have caused your family or friends.
  • The stress and anxiety of recovery.
  • The doubt you may have about the future.
  • Cut each part of your list on paper into strips so that each item is one single strip.
  • If you have a safe place to burn paper (fireplace, firepit, etc.) that’s great…otherwise you can tear the strips of paper.
  • In your mind or aloud, make a positive statement about letting go of the thing that is holding you back physically or emotionally.

Example: “I know that I have caused my family hurt and grief over my actions; but I choose to let this go, as I am making better choices and rebuilding my relationship with my family; I want to heal from this and move on.”

  • Either place the strip of paper into the fire or tear it to pieces and throw it away.

**Note—some towns and cities now have “smashing sessions” where you can smash and break things in a safe environment, such as the Rage Cage in NYC. If you prefer a little more excitement while letting go—that’s a possible alternative!

Get creative with making goals for 2021!

Making goals for the year doesn’t have to be boring. If you have a creative side—use it!

Need some resolution ideas? Check out this article by Life Hack.

  • Create a collage of what you hope for the future.
  • Write a poem or other form of creative writing.
  • Seal all of your written goals in an envelope and don’t open them until the next New Year’s Eve.
  • Meditate and practice mindfulness while saying positive affirmations.
  • Create a positive affirmation/goal visual (on Canva) and set it as your desktop or phone background.
  • Download a goal-setting/planner app to help you move forward.

Whatever you choose to do for the New Year celebration—remember that sticking to your treatment plan and staying sober should be the ultimate goal. If celebrating at all seems too overwhelming, simply invite a friend over and binge-watch a funny series and order in. Don’t forget that you have people out there who love and care about you and want you to succeed; rely on them during the holidays for support.

Alcohol Rehab in Denver, CO

If you need some extra care during the holiday season—and afterward—contact Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado. Learn to heal and recover from addiction in a holistic way with a treatment team of professionals who are dedicated to your unique needs. You won’t regret making the decision to start your recovery journey with us.

In the meantime…have a safe and fantastic holiday!