For those who are newly sober, facing Christmas without alcohol can be a daunting proposition. At this time of year, alcoholic drinks accompany a wide range of events and activities, from the office party to the Christmas day meal. Therefore, staying sober during the festive season requires determination and a clear plan for success.

If you have decided to stop drinking, for whatever reason, Christmas is a time of traditional opposition to your efforts. There always seems to be a friend cajoling you to have a pint, or a distant family member who unwittingly buys you a bottle of expensive wine as a gift. It is important to remember your reasons for going alcohol free, and you should feel comfortable in those convictions.

How Christmas offers a chance at redemption for alcoholics

For recovering alcoholics, the festive period can be seen as an opportunity to make amends for previous failings. Step 9 of the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery programme encourages addicts to reconcile differences with all persons who have been harmed by their actions. Spending time with friends, family and loved ones can make Christmas an ideal vehicle to achieving that end.

It can often feel good to apologise for, and indeed to forgive, past indiscretions. Remembering the real purpose of Christmas, a celebration of goodwill, helps to crystallise that concept. In modern times, we have seemingly conflated Christmas with rampant consumerism and consumption, forgetting its true roots in Christianity. Nowadays, Christmas is a time of excess food, overwhelming gifts and ever-present alcohol, but that was not the original intention.

If you are about to embark on a Christmas without alcohol, seize this opportunity to enjoy the festive period. Many recovering alcoholics struggle to remember times of great celebration or success, which can be washed away in a sea of booze and attendant regrets. Staying sober can heighten your enjoyment of a magical season and go a long way to repairing any relationships that may be broken.

By remaining present and enjoying the company of those who are most important to you, Christmas without alcohol can be a life-altering experience. Do not be dissuaded by popular opinion or peer pressure.

Why you do not need alcohol to have a good time

Somewhere along the way, modern society perpetrated a myth that increased alcohol consumption correlates directly to improved levels of enjoyment. The more we drink, the more fun we will have, at least according to mainstream thinking. Such a concept is not only untrue; it is exceedingly dangerous to the cultural fabric of our societies.

You do not need alcohol to have a good time. In moderation, alcohol can be an accessory to a good time, but it is not the catalyst of a good time. Nor is it the accelerator or maintainer of a good time. A comfortable cinema seat may improve your experience of a film, but it does not improve the film itself. Similarly, alcohol may seem to heighten your experience of a Christmas party or meal, but those events are not fundamentally changed by whether or not you consume five pints while participating.

How alcohol can lead to low mood and mental health problems

Moreover, it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant. Sensory impairment and cognitive diminishment are direct consequences of consuming alcohol. Accordingly, in small doses, alcohol can appear to improve our mood, as anxiety melts away and problems appear distant. However, the more alcohol we drink, the more likely it becomes that those perceived positive effects will be replaced by negative counterparts.

More alcohol means more sensory impairment. More alcohol means more cognitive diminishment. More alcohol means more difficulty keeping our emotions in check. Logically, therefore, more alcohol also means more chance of falling into a low mood and, by extension, more chance of being diagnosed with a mental health condition.

If you have experienced such difficulties before, try to use that as motivation for a Christmas without alcohol. Mental ill health feed one another. They are simultaneously and invariably cause and effect. Some may drink to ease anxiety while actually making it worse, while others may develop anxiety as an unplanned result of drinking alcohol. The vicious cycle needs to be stopped, and a calendar being flipped to December is not an excuse to prolong your suffering.

Why you need to take each day as it comes

Such is our cultural tradition, Christmas without alcohol seems almost illogical to some, like a car without wheels or a church without prayer. To many people, alcohol is as much part of Christmas as the tree, tinsel and television. However, we are often guilty of building the festive period into something larger than it needs to be, and that can derail our plans to stop drinking.

Ultimately, to successfully enjoy Christmas without alcohol, we have to stop viewing it as one giant block of days blended together interminably. The whole of December does not need to be about parties and shopping and drinking mulled wine at irrational hours. For recovering alcoholics, it is important not to endow Christmas with too much otherness.

Christmas is a magical time, but the days are still only 24 hours long. You have gone 24 hours without drinking before, and you can do it again. That a snowman sits in the garden, and that lights flash on a tree, does not overly matter. A singular vision is required to conquer temptation and enjoy Christmas without alcohol. Do not be distracted from your recovery plan. Take one day at a time and stay true to your ambitions.

How to prepare an escape plan to avoid alcohol at Christmas

Of course, difficult situations are bound to arise at Christmas, just as they do every single day in every walk of life. Temptation will visit, just as it has in the past. You may find yourself contemplating just one drink – to blend in, to keep people happy, to be social – but you have to face that challenge and emerge victorious.

Creating a readymade escape plan can help immensely in this regard. At a party, for instance, having a pre-set time when you will leave can help, as can confirming your mode of transport in advance. Likewise, before gathering for your Christmas meal, plan what you will drink and how you will respond to the inevitable questions about your sobriety. Have a plan, strategise your days and stick to the vision. You are in charge of your own decisions, so make them true to your soul.

For additional support in conquering addiction to alcohol and staying sober this Christmas, contact our expert team today. Here at Step One Recovery, we give you everything you need in order to heal and resume a better life. Call our expert team on +44 (0) 800 012 6006 to discuss the most efficient roadmap to your future goals.