Top 10 Tips for Staying Clean & Sober During the Holidays

Top 10 Tips for Staying Clean & Sober During the Holidays

To some, the month of December is the most wonderful time of year. But it’s not this way for everyone, especially those who are going through drug or alcohol recovery in Denver. For them, the holidays bring up memories of getting drunk, staying up late, or making a spectacle at family events from over-indulging. Staying sober during the holidays is a challenge.

However, when you’re sober, you can’t just take the night off to drink. This could damage your recovery and the progress you’ve made so far. So how can you stay clean over the holidays while still enjoying yourself and your loved ones? We have ten essential tips for you below. 

Top 10 Tips To Stay Sober During the Holidays

1. Remind yourself why staying sober is important to you.

People sometimes have mixed emotions about sobriety. One minute, you might feel good about being sober. But other times, you might feel like you’re missing out. This is normal, so let yourself feel these emotions, but try not to dwell on them. Instead, remind yourself why you got sober in the first place.

If you can, write down the reasons why you entered outpatient rehab in Denver and the benefits you have gained. Carry this with you so that you can read it when you need the reassurance. This will help you handle the temptation that arises over the holidays. You may not be able to go out and get drunk, but at least you are here to enjoy the season. 

2. Make your recovery a priority. 

Start the season off right by making a commitment to your sobriety. When you allow your sobriety to guide your choices, you’ll end up making smarter decisions. By now, you already know what will happen if you fall back into using drugs and alcohol. 

Putting your recovery first. You have the right to make decisions for yourself. It doesn’t matter what other people think or want – you’ve put in the hard work to get clean and sober and now you get to make decisions that will keep you healthy. You have to take care of yourself first. Period. 

3. Choose holiday festivities wisely.

Occasionally, there will be holiday festivities that you want to attend, even though there will be drugs or alcohol. Ask yourself honestly if it’s worth the risk. It’s best to steer clear of places with triggers. If possible, try to see friends and family virtually. You don’t even have to tell them anything else except that you are most comfortable seeing them this way (which is preferred with COVID-19). 

4. Plan an escape route. 

Even if you do see family and friends virtually, it’s still important to have an escape plan. Things can turn stressful or triggering at any point in time, and you don’t want to risk your recovery over a drinking game or family argument. 

Create an escape plan that you’re comfortable following. This could be as simple as driving yourself so you can leave when you want, having a trusted friend on call or having a backup plan (even if it’s just an excuse). 

5. Spend more time with sober influences. 

If the holidays are triggering for you, don’t spend more time with people and places that are going to bring back memories of getting drunk or high. Surround yourself with positive influences such as members from your 12-step groups. In fact, you may want to attend more 12-step meetings right now to keep yourself grounded. If this is your first holiday season sober, the other members can offer some helpful tips. 

girl opening presents
6. Create new traditions to enjoy. 

When you get sober, there are going to be traditions that you can no longer participate in. Whether it’s getting drunk on New Year’s Eve or drinking a bottle of wine while cooking, these traditions need to be swapped out with new things. 

There is so much change happening with the pandemic that now is a great time to establish new traditions. You may find it best to stay in and order Chinese food on Christmas Eve. Starting new traditions will embrace your sober lifestyle and give you different things to look forward to. 

7. Continue taking care of your mental and physical health. 

During the holidays, it’s common for people to get lax about their diet and exercise. While other people can do this and get back into the swing of things in January, you might veer off track with your drug or alcohol recovery in Denver

Make sure that you are taking care of your emotional and physical health by practicing good self-care. Follow your same routine, get enough sleep at night, eat nutritious foods and exercise. Bottom line: Don’t get complacent in your recovery. 

8. Give back to others. 

Volunteering your time throughout the year is an important thing to do because you can make a difference, find your greater purpose and keep a healthy perspective on life’s problems. But there’s never a better time to do this than the holidays. 

During December, volunteer opportunities are plentiful and more people are in need of time and monetary donations to make their holidays happy. Find nonprofit organizations in your area that could use your help. Whether it’s collecting food, wrapping presents or walking dogs at an animal shelter, your time and talents can go a long way this holiday season.

9. Manage your stress levels. 

Managing stress is always a challenge, and this is especially true during the holidays. This is the time of year when people extend themselves financially, emotionally and physically in order to please others and fulfill holiday expectations. 

Thankfully, you do not have to over-extend yourself to have a happy holiday. When you’re stressed, your brain releases cortisol, which can trigger you to want to drink or use drugs. Manage your stress levels by choosing your activities wisely and practicing good self-care.

10. Keep in tune with your feelings. 

Finally, make sure to keep in tune with your feelings. Write in your journal, practice gratitude and continue going to therapy and 12-step meetings. Don’t lose yourself in the holidays. This is only a temporary time and certainly not a representation of what the rest of the year looks like. Stay grounded and remember that this season is for gratitude and giving – not receiving and showing off. 

Having a Sober Support System During the Holidays

Not everyone has a group of people they can truly call a support system; but everyone has the option to create one. Those who are more vulnerable, such as those with mental health issues, especially those who suffer with addiction or who are in recovery, are in need of a support system during the holidays that can effectively meet their needs. The holidays are here and having support while trying to stay sober during this time is invaluable. How one creates their support system, who is involved, and when to call it quits with someone within the inner circle are all things to consider. Regardless, the benefits of an addiction recovery support system during the holidays are numerous, especially with holiday parties, stress and pressure, and family time in action.

If you are struggling with staying sober over the holidays, make sure you have a positive group of people surrounding you in order to support you and your goals.

What is the role of a support system?

Having a solid support system during the addiction recovery process is imperative. The role of those whom you choose to be in this special circle is to physically, emotionally, and spiritually be there for you in your times of need. These individuals will have knowledge of or understand your addiction history and triggers. They will also remain non-judgemental, best serve your needs, help you achieve your goals, and be there for you when you need someone the most.

When you choose someone to be that person, you should let them know that you value the relationship between the two of you and would like to be able to go to them in times of need. This might already be common knowledge between you and this person, and it is also good to tell them how much you appreciate their trustworthiness, support, and acceptance.

Who should and should not be in your support system?

When you are trying to stay in recovery from addiction, especially during a vulnerable time such as the holidays, you don’t want just anybody on your side. You want a group of individuals who value your entire person, no matter your ups and downs or relapses. You want people who will be there for you during any specific time.

Aside from the common people, best friends and most supportive family members, some people or groups of people you may want to include are:

  • Treatment team
  • Mentor or coach
  • An accountability partner
  • Those going through the same thing
  • A faith-based leader

You are not meant to go through your recovery process alone; being isolated and not accepting or asking for help may send you spiraling down when you really need to be lifted up. Take the initiative to identify key individuals that can support you best and help you stay sober during the holidays.

Some advice from the experts at

Find someone—such as a parent, family member, teacher, faith leader, health care provider or other trusted individual, who:

  • Gives good advice when you want and ask for it; assists you in taking action that will help
  • Likes, respects, and trusts you and who you like, respect, and trust, too
  • Allows you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakes
  • Listens to you and shares with you, both the good and bad times
  • Respects your need for confidentiality so you can tell him or her anything
  • Lets you freely express your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing
  • Works with you to figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up
  • Has your best interest in mind

Now that you know the basics and what is recommended in terms of who to surround yourself when, learn about the benefits of having a support system when in recovery.

Who should NOT be in your support system?

You definitely don’t want…

  • anyone who is going to trigger you to relapse;
  • someone who is judgemental and not accepting of your choices, recovery, and goals;
  • someone who has had a negative role in your past addiction;
  • a person who can’t put in the time and effort to be there for you

Surrounding yourself with someone who won’t act responsibly and respectfully around you while you’re trying to remain sober is not a good idea for your success.

What are the Benefits of Having a Support System When in Recovery?

If you’ve read this article up until now, then it is obvious that having an addiction recovery support system during the holidays can be beneficial to you. What exactly are the positive advantages of having and utilizing a special circle of support?

  • Having positive people in your life can’t be a bad thing, right? Positivity brings more positivity.
    • “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too can become great.” Mark Twain
  • Finding a positive peer group or support group with people who have “been there, done that” and can help you feel seen and heard. “People [in these groups can] offer their experiences, strengths, and hopes to peers, which allows for natural evolution of personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery,” (gov).
  • Having a support system can allow you to voice your struggles and frustrations to people who are (hopefully) non-judgemental, caring, and are legit there for you no matter what.
  • These are people you can go to when you need a lifeline. Feeling an urge? Call or visit someone within your circle. Are the pressures of the holidays and trying to stay sober really getting to you? Gather your tribe together and discuss your coping strategies; hanging out with one of them may just be that strategy you need.
  • Having someone who can participate alongside you during treatment team meetings and who fully understands your treatment goals is important to your recovery.

Is your support system scarce or not what you need it to be?

Use these tips from the American Psychological Association to help build and strengthen your support network and stay sober during the holidays:

  • Reach out to family and friends. Simply saying hello or offering to help with a task can spark conversation.
  • Use technology. Connect with people far away via email, text messaging or video calls.
  • Connect with people who share your interests. Join a club, volunteer at a local organization or take a class. This may help you meet people who share your likes and interests.
  • Look for peer support groups. If you are facing a personal challenge, consider joining a peer support group to help take care of your mental health and connect with people who are facing something similar.
  • Ask for help. Reach out to your local library, place of worship, or community center to learn more about local events you may want to attend or groups you may want to join.

Rock your recovery and stay sober during the holidays; but don’t do it all alone. Know that there are people out there that care about you and want to support you. Choosing and using your support system is worth it!

Drug Rehab in Denver, CO 

The holidays can be stressful, but it’s important to know that you are never alone and that you can stay sober during the holidays. Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado remains open during the holidays. If you need us at any time, give our admissions department a call and we’ll be happy to help. Our holistic outpatient rehab in Denver makes it easy to get the help you need in a practical, affordable way.