The big day is finally here! The festivities, all of your friends and family are here for the great food…and the alcohol may be looking very appealing. As alcoholics in recovery, holidays and special events can be particularly difficult for us. No matter how long you have been sober, celebrating any occasion should not be a reason to pick up a drink. Here are some helpful tips for any recovering alcoholic to have a safe and sober fun time at any big event or holiday:
- Choose to hang out with sober friends. These big holidays and special events can bring up old memories of partying and drinking, especially your drinking buddies. Make it different this year and surround yourself with friends who are also sober. If you are only around friends who are sober you will not even miss the alcohol!
- Bring out the child in you! Take it back to when fun meant playing outside with friends, splashing around in the pool, roasting marshmallows and looking at fireworks. Go to a carnival with sober friends, get your face painted, listen to live music, eat funnel cake and ride crazy thrilling rides. Let the kid in you out to play! The best part? No hangover the next morning!
- Do some good for others. Holidays are a perfect time to volunteer. There are plenty of places that need help, such as homeless shelters, child care centers or a senior homes. If you are not in the mood to celebrate, this would be a wonderful time to jump into action and lead a meeting in a rehab or volunteer by giving out food at a soup kitchen. Helping others in this sense can be extremely rewarding.
- Get nice glasses and create fancy mocktails. Non-alcoholic drinks can be just as delicious, if not more, delicious, than alcoholic drinks. They can look pretty and fancy in glasses and can be tasty and bubbly. They have a feel-good factor and, so long as they do not trigger the drinker to desire the real thing, can serve as a wonderful substitute. A festive drink for a holiday such as the fourth of July is three ounces of fruit punch followed by three ounces of blue Gatorade, and lastly Sprite on top. Simple and delicious!
- Know how and when to leave. If a recovering alcoholic does find themselves at a party in which there is alcohol served, they need to have a graceful exit plan in mind. Have a set time planned, or an excuse already thought of in case a craving hits, tension gets high, and you need to get out of there fast. It is okay to tell a little white lie to save your own tail in a situation. Your recovery should always come first.
- Throw a BYONB party. BYONB means “Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages.” Only invite guests who will be respectful of this rule and will not mock or make fun of it. It is critical that recovering alcoholics surround themselves with individuals who are supportive of their recovery path.
- If you are suffering, tell someone. Holidays are meant to be celebrated with family and friends; therefore, if you are having a bad day, and your brain is flooded with uncomfortable feelings of temptation, or you are just simply depressed, talk to someone. Help is always there. If you cannot reach your sponsor or support group member, call the recovery hotline. There are plenty of resources to help you stay sober, especially during these crucial times. It is always better to be heard than to keep your feelings to yourself.
For various reasons, holidays can be stressful for everyone; but especially stressful for the recovering alcoholic. There is no reason why an alcoholic in recovery cannot participate in special events and big holidays of any kind and stay sober while still having fun. Try using these tips next time you are headed to a big event and you will find that you are more comfortable and less stressed about staying sober.
- The key is to surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who know what you are going through who will not pressure you into giving in and having a drink.
The longer you stay sober the more practice you will have at staying sober during big events, and the easier this will get. It may seem foreign initially to be the only one at the party without an alcoholic drink in hand; however, soon you will not be at those places because you will be so involved with your sober friends. The best part about a sober life is that you will always remember the fun times you are having!