Family gathered at Christmas telling jokes

Christmas is a time for get-togethers with tables adorned with festive decorations, endless food and a few tipples.

And while for most, it’s a period of catching up and celebrating the year just gone as well as what’s ahead, for others – and especially those in recovery – it can present a number of difficult challenges.

At Step One Recovery, we’re here to help you, so we’ve rounded up our best tips to help you to stay sober this Christmas.

Share the Time with Others That Aren’t Drinking

It’s easy to automatically assume that you’ll be the only one not drinking at a party, but the truth is, there are often many people who aren’t. Whether it is because of health, personal choice or because they’re the designated driver that evening, a quick scan of glasses and you should find many people who haven’t got alcohol in their hands.

For those that do decide to drink alcohol, most of them aren’t going to care if you’re drinking or not. To start with, you may find it easier to stick with those people who aren’t drinking. Or, you could join in some of the fun and games that younger guests are enjoying.

If you feel ready to, you could also confide in one or two people as to why you aren’t drinking for a little moral support. Instead of viewing your sobriety as a negative, you’ll likely find that people are inspired, interested, and very receptive to other people’s personal choices and perspectives.

Have a Break if it Gets Stressful

Recovery isn’t easy; unfortunately, when people are drinking more alcohol, it can make it even more difficult. Being honest with yourself is one of the best things you can do, and this includes recognising that your recovery and, indeed, Christmas get-togethers may feel stressful during the festive season.

This is a completely normal feeling; just know that you’re not the only one who will feel that way. Instead, take a break from all the celebrations and remove yourself from situations involving alcohol. If you’re at a party, you could head outside for some fresh air or ask your confidant to go for a walk.

Don’t feel like you have to accept every invitation during December either – if it’s getting too much, there are plenty of festive activities that you can enjoy without alcohol. Relax at home with a Christmas movie on, go and see some local festive lights or pop out to do a spot of shopping – for your loved ones or even yourself. Recovery won’t always be easy, but it should never feel burdensome.

Celebrate with Fellow Recovering Addicts

You’re never alone in recovery, and there are other people who are on the same journey. If you know anyone else in recovery, why not consider a get-together away from alcohol? Or, you could see which local initiatives are on. As a notoriously difficult time, there’s usually an increase in support groups and meetings around Christmas.

Alternatively, you could turn your focus to helping others. Perhaps you could volunteer at a support group, making hot drinks and handing out festive treats. Spending time with and helping those in recovery makes you less likely to think about drinking or using drugs.

Helping others is a great way to strengthen your resilience and recovery too. Plus, it’s a great way to keep any feelings of loneliness at bay, as you’ll be surrounded by others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Avoid Isolating Yourself

As mentioned above, being around others is a great way to stay resilient. But it’s not just important to meet up with those in recovery. Friends and family members can offer you a vital support network during those more difficult times. Reach out and speak to people – whether you’re having a good day or struggling. Try to attend AA meetings even if you’re travelling around to visit loved ones. If you can’t make it, don’t worry, as there are many virtual events online.

Isolation is one of the biggest causes of relapse around the festive season, so even if you don’t have any get-togethers planned, get out and try to meet people. Even if it’s just a coffee in the local town or a volunteering session, getting out and speaking to others can do wonders for your mental health.

Telling someone close to you about your wishes to stay sober can also help you be more accountable, which means you won’t be doing it alone.

Remember to Keep the Pressure Off

Another top tip for staying strong in your recovery is not putting pressure on yourself. Recovery isn’t easy, as we know, and you will face challenges. By accepting this early on in your journey, you’ll be more equipped to deal with them. Some of the best things to remember are:

  • You don’t need to accept every invitation and go to every party.
  • If you’re anxious about a certain event, ask yourself if it’s worth it. You can say no.
  • Make sure you have an exit strategy at every event. You don’t need to explain yourself. Just thank the host and go. Showing your face is enough.
  • Be the designated driver. That way, you won’t be offered drinks and you can make sure your loved ones get home.
  • Make a relapse-prevention plan for each day with details of local meetings and support groups.
  • Take time for you – whether it’s a soak in the bath, a quiet hour reading or even an exercise class to release those endorphins.

Get help with Step One Recovery

At Step One Recovery, we know just how difficult Christmas can be for those in recovery and their loved ones. But, we’re always here to help. Simply drop our friendly team a message or call us on 0300 107 2950. With us, you’ll never be alone on your recovery journey.