The holiday season can bring feelings of joy and happiness, but can also be anxiety-inducing for many. If you are in sobriety, you might be concerned about how many past holiday activities revolved around substance use or how get-togethers might expose you to triggering events or people. Maintaining sobriety throughout the holidays can be challenging, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. While each person’s scenario is unique and complex, we wanted to share some general tips for maintaining sobriety throughout the holidays.

Happy holiday gathering.

Plan ahead for recovery.

Planning ahead for your recovery can help ease anxiety and frustration. Being proactive can allow you to make more informed and thought-out decisions in regards to what is best for your recovery journey. When planning ahead, here are some important things to keep in mind.

  • Plan to do things that are important to you and align with what you are trying to achieve in recovery. For example, plan to spend time with friends and family members who don’t use drugs or alcohol. 
  • Invest in your wellbeing. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. These can help reduce cravings and keep your mood stable during stressful times. When considering holiday plans, make sure you are setting aside time for your self-care.
  • Bring your support system with you. It’s important to have a support system of people who are supportive of your recovery, no matter where you might be during the holiday season. Make a plan with a friend to have in-person or virtual accountability check-ins, and consider engaging in a local 12-step group even if you are out of town. Raleigh has a wealth of local recovery resources, but there are plenty of options for support nation-wide.

Build your lifestyle for sobriety.

It’s important to remember that sobriety is a lifestyle, not a diet or quick-fix solution. It’s a decision that you make every day, and it requires dedication and hard work in order to succeed. That being said, you can have fun and be sober. It is all about the lifestyle you wish to build for yourself! Set aside some time to really think about the life you wish to lead. You could get out and do something active with your friends and family, or try a new hobby like rock climbing or painting. Consider other ways you can make sobriety an encompassing lifestyle. There are plenty of podcasts, books, and other resources related to sobriety and living a healthy life.

Embrace sobriety through gratitude.

When you find yourself getting caught up in negative emotions, it’s important to remember that there is so much more to be grateful for than what you are experiencing at that moment. Gratitude is something that you can tap into and utilize anytime. Like a muscle, the more you utilize it, the more it grows. 

Give back to others.

When you are feeling down, there is no better way to lift your spirits than by helping someone else. Whether it’s volunteering at a local organization or just helping out a friend in need, giving back can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Making a positive impact on those around us helps us form a deeper sense of self – it can boost your confidence, increase your self-esteem, and help give you a sense of purpose or meaning. 

You don’t have to do recovery alone.

The best way to stay sober during the holidays is to make sure you have a friend close by who is also sober. Having someone to talk to if you’re feeling tempted or overwhelmed will go a long way toward keeping your sobriety intact. If you can’t have someone around in-person, be sure to get in touch with someone virtually. If this person isn’t familiar with recovery, educate them about the signs of relapse and how they can help you prevent relapse.

Keep your plans sober.

Some holiday traditions you enjoyed in the past might not be conducive to supporting your sobriety. Think ahead about plans and activities to see if you feel like they are propelling you towards your goals or could have a negative impact. Coordinate ahead with family and friends to find how you can engage in celebrations in a healthy way that encourages your sobriety, but be prepared to make last-minute changes if a situation is endangering your sobriety.

Prepare for tough conversations.

Certain people might not understand your sobriety and may try to push you towards activities you don’t wish to participate in. Be prepared to hold your ground about your decisions. It is up to you how much you wish to explain your decision for sobriety to others, but here are a few key phrases to help you stay on track.

  • “I will not be participating because it doesn’t align with my values.”
  • “I’m celebrating the holiday in other ways that are consistent with my sobriety.”
  • “My sobriety is important to me and I will not be making decisions to compromise it.” 

Keep a sobriety journal.

Journaling is a great way to get in touch with your emotions. It’s important to be able to identify what triggers your desire to use substances, what makes you feel good or what you enjoy doing when you’re sober, and your other thoughts or feelings. Journaling can help you better identify these things so you can incorporate them into your larger recovery journey.


If you’re in recovery and the holidays are a time of year that makes you nervous, use these tips to help make it easier on yourself. They may seem like common sense at first glance, but these tips are part of a broader set of life skills can set you up for success to stay sober throughout the holidays. Taking time to prepare for the holidays will help keep you focused on what matters most— being sober.

What tips for maintaining sobriety throughout the holidays do you plan to utilize?

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