The holiday season has officially begun, and that means parties at work and with friends and family. Many of these events may have alcohol, but for those who are in recovery or prefer not to drink, it can be tricky terrain.
It can be hard be hard to navigate the holidays without alcohol, but with the right support system and frame of mind, you can make healthy decisions while still enjoying the season!
Be Honest With Yourself
Before going to a party where alcohol will be served, be honest with yourself and ask if you will feel safe in a place where people are socially drinking. For those early in recovery, these situations may be triggering. If you feel that going to a bar or someone’s home where you know there will alcohol will be detrimental, it’s okay to skip. Your health comes first.
Bring A Buddy
If you want to make an appearance, consider bringing a sober buddy or a friend who will forego drinking in support of you. They will act as support for you and can help if any sort of temptation strikes. If need be, they can advocate for you and your decision not to drink during the holiday festivities. Consider having a “code word” that you can communicate to your friend when your footing doesn’t feel as solid.
Bring Your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Another way to navigate the holidays without alcohol is to bring your favorite non-alcoholic drink. It can be anything! A soda, favorite bubbly water, mocktail, or zero-proof cocktail. Even simply having something to hold in your hand can make you feel more comfortable at a party serving alcohol.
You can even offer to make mocktails/alcohol-free cocktails at the party to share and keep yourself occupied when not socializing! Send some of your favorite recipes from Sans Bar STL to the host.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
When offered an alcoholic drink, don’t be afraid to say no! It can be difficult and may sound silly, but saying no does work. Friends and family should respect your decision to abstain but it doesn’t hurt to have an exit strategy like “I’m not drinking tonight, thanks.” If someone persists, don’t feel bad about excusing yourself and talking to someone else. Remember that “No.” is a complete sentence.
If you are gifted alcohol during the holidays, politely thank the person for the gift and let them know that you’ve stopped drinking. If need be, you can regift it.
Ask If A Drink Is Alcoholic Before Trying
When at parties with homemade drinks like punch, ask the host if there’s alcohol in it before partaking. If you make a mistake and do take a drink, be kind to yourself. Mistakes happen and that doesn’t mean that your recovery or sobriety is compromised.
Be Mindful Of Desserts
Desserts such as rum balls are soaked in alcohol and not baked, leaving them full of alcohol. It doesn’t hurt to ask what is in a dessert or do a simple smell test. Don’t be embarrassed – people love to tell you all about the desserts/food they prepared for the party.
Have A Reason To Leave
Sometimes, you just need to get out of dodge. Have an excuse ready in case you need to scoot out early. Know that things might start to get crazy as the party goes on? Have an “out-by” time that you need to excuse yourself by and stand firm if people try to talk you in to staying.
Have A Sandwich
Well, not really. Try using the sandwich technique, and call a friend supportive of your recovery before and after the gathering. This can help you stay accountable! Speaking of sandwiches, don’t go hungry because a well-fed brain makes prioritizing yourself easier.
Reach Out To PreventEd For Professional Guidance & Resources
You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone.
PreventEd is a leader in the field of substance and alcohol use prevention programs. Since our inception in 1965, we have reached thousands of individuals through community programs, counseling referral services, and advocacy.
If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, reach out to a PreventEd counselor today. We are ready to answer your questions and guide you to the help you need.