5 Tips for Navigating the Holidays if You’re Newly Sober
The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. When you add getting and staying sober during the work and family parties to the mix, it can seem daunting. It is also entirely possible. Nearly 18 million people, or one in 12 adults in the US, suffer from alcohol or drug addiction (https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction). Millions more are working hard every day to stay sober. You are not alone.
We know that staying sober is a lifelong process, and that sobriety takes much more than following a list of tips. With that said, we hope that one or more of these tips stays in your mind and helps you to have a sober and safe holiday season.
More specifically, know your triggers! Often people are triggered by different people, places, or things, and it leads them to grab a drink or a drug. Be thoughtful and deliberate, and write a list of triggers to avoid this holiday season. Having this list in hand will help you to develop a workable relapse prevention plan.
Develop a Plan (and Stick to it)
Knowing your triggers helps you to develop a plan. Plan out what you are going to do in an uncomfortable situation. Who are you going to call if you freak out? What is your “escape route”? Having a detailed relapse prevention map that you can refer to can help you to attend parties and events with confidence.
Have a Wing Man
You had one (or more) while you were drinking or drugging, and they are still important now. A wing man or wing woman will stay sober with you. If you are involved in a 12-Step Program like AA or NA, then perhaps your wing man can be your sponsor. Some people have trusted family, friends, or even therapists help them through these times. Having a wing man can be incredibly powerful, as it reduces the feelings of being alone, and can help to hold you accountable.
Be a Kardashian
What? What I mean is that it is important to choose the events that you go to extremely carefully. Just because you are invited to a party does not mean that you have to go. Have a respectful and well-crafted response ready, and if you don’t have a plan and a wingman in place, perhaps you should consider RSVP’ing no.
Make Time for You
Make sure that you do everything you need to do to avoid the winter blues, as well as to avoid being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT). Taking the steps to work out, taking time for yourself, sleeping well, and eating right is key. You deserve it.
Getting sober can be challenging, but it can also be the greatest gift you ever give yourself. Happy Holidays.
Mark D’Agostino, M.D., MS, MSc
Assistant Medical Director
Silver Hill Hospital