How to stay in recovery during the holidays?

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Spoiler alert: Thought-provoking questions (and responses) ahead.

Recovery Centers of America recently conducted a poll on our Twitter account, RecoveryCOA to find out how users would respond to the following question: “Would you skip having alcohol at your holiday party if you knew someone in addiction recovery would be there?” Out of 1,366 votes, 63% of users answered yes, 32% of users answered no, and 5% provided alternative answers.  Twitter users stated some of the following opinions:

“No, life goes on. I’ve been sober and recovered for over 10 years. If you’ve recovered, you just become neutral to alcohol. If you can’t be around it, you haven’t recovered.”

“No. They shouldn’t attend a party where alcoholic beverages are being served. Some people need to wind down after a hard day. I wouldn’t bring my friend there. I’d have a good night with them, and drink when our time is up. I would NEVER want to get in the way of sobriety!”

“I quit drinking alcohol in 1985. My addiction is my problem and my responsibility. No one else is responsible for the decisions I make about my health. If I would be triggered, I would not go to the party where there is alcohol. Anyone who wants to drink should be able to enjoy themselves.”

Well, if someone is in the beginning of their recovery, then absolutely not. I invited them because I care about them. After a certain point, then yes, I would, but I would be sure to let them know there will be drinking, they decline the invite if they choose. Again, I asked them to come because I care.”







There are varying opinions about how those in recovery should approach the holidays, however, Scott Weisenberger, VP of Clinical Services at Recovery Centers of America gives ten pieces of advice about how to get through the holidays in recovery.

  1. The decision to go to a party where alcohol is served is an individual one. However, if you’re very early in recovery from any mood-altering substance, it’s probably a bad idea. Having said that, it’s an individual’s decision as to whether they are on good spiritual grounds.
  2. If you know in advance that a party you’re invited to ultimately becomes a drunk-fest, it’s probably best to not attend. However, there are other parties at which people drink very little, even though it’s available.
  3. If you absolutely must go to a party where alcohol will be served, such as a work function, it’s best to tell a trusted sober confidante in advance where you’ll be going and agree to call them after the event.
  4. If you do go to a party where alcohol is served, and you’re drinking club soda, never go back to the same glass after you put it down. Either keep your drink in your hand or get a fresh beverage.
  5. If you absolutely must go to a party where alcohol is served, make sure you have a way to escape – if things get difficult for you.
  6. Rehearse in advance your answer to the question “Why aren’t you drinking?”
  7. Start your own tradition by inviting friends over for an alcohol-free party. Look at this way: With no money spent on alcohol, you can offer high-class food.
  8. A lot of sober organizations become extra active during the holidays. Check your local area, because you can find activities that are safe and supportive of sobriety.
  9. The Recovery Centers of America Alumni Association is not limited to those who completed treatment with RCA. We host fun events such as sober Christmas and New Years Eve parties.
  10. Don’t let yourself become reclusive and think about a winter hobby that you can set a goal for. Remember you aren’t the only one going through this.

Most importantly, if any event is a danger to your recovery, don’t go. You don’t need to explain to anyone why. If someone offers you anything to drink, a simple “no, I’m not drinking today” is all you need to say. Who you tell about recovery status is up to you. Remember this adage: When in doubt, don’t.

What would YOU do? Join the discussion

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