3 Tips on Surviving the Holidays Sober

Christmas gifts

As the holidays roll around again this year, many in recovery may find themselves awkwardly fumbling around the kitchen feeling out of place. Either from not being there for past years or not recalling their past behavior at the dining room table. Whatever the past embarrassment though, here we are with a new mindset and outlook on life, yet no one else truly understands that like we do.

I can still remember that first holiday I spent with my family sober; probably the first one since being a young child too. Everyone was so excited and filled with holiday cheer. Sure, I was too, but mostly anxious and nervous, as I hadn’t seen many of my relatives in a year or two. And, definitely not since I had turned my life around. It was an awkward evening for me, but you know what? No one else seemed to notice. So, my advice to you as we enter the holidays and many of us for the first time sober is this:

1. Stay strong

While you are with your family and loved ones during the holiday, remember to stay strong. You may encounter others drinking excessively or using drugs at holiday events you attend over the next few months.

Therefore, you must remember everything you have learned thus far in recovery to properly avoid these negative situations or get out of them successfully. This can mean a number of things. You may choose to: not attend the event, bring sober friends to socialize with at the event, communicate that you do not want to participate. Although, if you’re having to tell them no, you better be walking away from that crowd too!

Even more so, we often have family members that use alcohol socially. If this is a trigger for you, ask them to be respectful—you’ll be surprised how many people will actually respect your wishes.

2. Be prepared to answer questions

If you’re spending the holidays surrounded by family and loved ones that watched you spiral out of control in your addiction, be prepared to talk about the journey into recovery. Many will wonder how your treatment program went, what you’ve been doing to remain sober if you’ve got a job and what you plan to do with your life now.

Seriously, I don’t think these type of questions stopped for the entire first year of being back with my family. And honestly, it’s really not a bad thing. You know you have a group of people that love you and want nothing, but the best of you. It does get annoying at times, but hey they love you!

3. Know that not everyone is going to understand (right away)

Okay, this one may be a tough one for some people. So, there are just some people that saw you in your addiction that just won’t be able to understand right away. They may come off rude towards you or have snide comments to make. Whatever it may be, just know it’s not you.

When this happens, just know the best answer is to communicate with them and continue to show them the improvements that you are making in your life to be a better person than you were previously. As you continue to do this, you will slowly realize that those that seemed to not get it, slowly realize that change is possible and welcome you back into their lives.

All in all, the holidays can be a little rough when you’re in recovery, but just know you can make it through them successfully. Even though my first one was an awkward evening, as the years have gone by, I have come to look forward to the holidays and family events. So, just remain strong and always remember that the holidays are about love, togetherness and family, so hug them tight and enjoy your time together.



After completing the Narconon program in Michigan, Rebecca has dedicated her life to staying sober and helping others find sobriety using the techniques provided by Narconon.