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Tips to Stay Sober During the Holidays

By: Natalie Tabor


Though the holidays are wonderful, they can also be a difficult time, especially if you are someone in addiction recovery. Let’s face it- EAT, DRINK, AND BE, wine, liquor, and holiday cocktails are often abundant at holiday parties. Here we share some strategies with you that can help you maintain sobriety during those holiday gatherings.

Research has shown that successful recovery consists of a harmony of determination and strategy. Strategy is all about goal setting! Determination comes into play in sticking to the goals that you set. A successful recovery strategy is all about setting the right goals and implementing changes that work best for YOU and your new healthy lifestyle. Let’s look at some science-backed potential strategies that you could utilize to help maintain the path of recovery this holiday season. 


Control of the environment is an important strategy in recovery. It can help prevent cues, specific to your circumstances, that can trigger cravings and relapse. Here we outline some ways to control your environment while still celebrating with friends and family this Thanksgiving!

1. Hosting a gathering: This strategy can allow you to be in full control of what is on the menu and ensure the household is substance-free. Hosting an event can also be a creative outlet - from making invitations, to decorating the space, to cooking your favorite foods. However, you must consider whether hosting a gathering, which can be a time-intensive process, will be more fun or more anxiety-inducing.


2. Bringing items to an event that someone else is hosting: This strategy can ensure you have something that is good for YOU in a different space. Whether it is a side dish, mocktail, or game, it can be a comfort for you, lighten the load of the host, and a way to share something you love with others. 

3. Bring a friend to your holiday gathering: Try traveling with a friend or someone who supports you. This strategy can help you to feel less lonely and is a built in support for potentially stressful situations. By bringing a friend, you will have a person to talk to when you are feeling triggered. If you don’t have anyone you can bring, try to think of someone you can call, text, or otherwise communicate with so that you have a support person in place.

 4. Take a break from the situation: This strategy can give you the time and space you need to relax. Sometimes leaving the party is not an option, so just take a break. Think about going outside and putting on headphones, take a walk around the block, get some fresh air, use a meditation app, or call a friend! These strategies can help get you back in the right mindset and ready to get back to the festivities.


Whatever strategy you choose, make sure it is one works best for YOU. Remember to take care of yourself and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving from all of us here at the International Quit and Recovery Registry!


Snoek, A., Levy, N., & Kennett, J. (2016). Strong-willed but not successful: The importance of strategies in recovery from addiction. Addictive behaviors reports, 4, 102-107. You can find the link to this research article here.

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