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When You’re Ready to Stop Drinking: A 10-Step Guide During the Holidays

For most people, the holiday season is a fun time of year filled with parties, celebrations and social gatherings with family and friends. For others, however, it can lead to feelings of sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety. Either way, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time for those who are ready to stop drinking.

How to get through the holidays sober
Here is a 10-step guide to stay sober this holiday season:

1.    Avoid the riskiest parties
If you’ve recently stopped drinking, it’s best to avoid events that center on alcohol. Instead, celebrate with friends and co-workers at potlucks, cookie exchanges or afternoon get-togethers.

2.    Drink something festive (and non-alcoholic)
There are plenty of fun, festive and alcohol-free drinks to choose from like fancy juices, flavored ice teas, non-alcoholic beer or ginger beer. If you’re going to a party, these are not only fun gifts for the hostess, but they ensure you have non-alcoholic choices while you’re there.

3.    Know your ‘no’
Get good at saying no and have a short response ready when friends and family pressure you to drink like, “No thanks, I’m trying to get healthy.” This not only gets your point across, but it doesn’t invite further conversation.

4.    Bring a sober buddy
Take a friend, loved one, mentor or sponsor to events. It will be easier to abstain from drinking if you have someone who is supportive by your side.

5.    Be aware and prepare
Be aware of your triggers (and try to avoid them as much as possible) and prepare a plan of action, especially if you are travelling. Find and attend local AA meetings or recovery groups to help keep you on track. 

6.    Forgive yourself
If you a have a glass of wine with dinner or a bartender accidentally put alcohol in your drink, practice self-love and understand this is not a relapse. Honor your progress and get back on track the next morning.

7.    Stay busy
Plan your fun and choose activities that you enjoy so your mind won’t be on alcohol. Try a new winter sport or volunteer to keep your mind off alcohol.

8.    Find new ways to have fun
If your holiday gatherings typically center on alcohol, suggest something new like ice skating or going to a holiday movie.

9.    Take care of yourself
Never let yourself get too hungry, too angry, too tired or too lonely. Eat well, stay hydrated and recognize possible triggers before they get out of control.

10.  Make a list and check it often
When you stop drinking, it’s important to take a moment and write down all the ways in which your life has improved—and keep it with you. Read through it as needed to remind yourself how much better your life is without alcohol.

If you or a loved one wants to stop drinking, there’s no better time than now. Gateway Rehab has helped thousand of people overcome alcohol addiction while instilling them with a new sense of self. Our highly trained experts provide gender and age-specific treatments in individual and small-group settings. In these treatments, patients are provided the tools they need to bring themselves back to life and to stay on the path to recovery. Call 724-218-3896 to learn more.