How to Stay Sober During the Holidays: A Guide

staying sober during the holidays

Table of Contents

Staying sober during the holidays can be tough, especially for individuals struggling with alcohol and substance abuse. You want to celebrate like everyone else, but the temptation to drink is strong. Don’t worry; you’ve got this. You can have so much fun and joy in your life without needing alcohol, it’s doable. Connecting with loved ones, baking cookies, watching classic movies—there are plenty of holiday traditions you can still enjoy while maintaining sobriety.

This guide, designed with individuals like you in mind, will walk you through strategies to help you navigate parties, cope with triggers, and find fellowship so you can have an alcohol-free yet memorable season. The holidays will be here before you know it, so get ready now to protect your sobriety and peace of mind. With the right mindset and support, you can unquestionably triumph in staying sober during the holidays.

Why is it Hard to Stay Sober Over the Holidays?

Staying sober during the holidays presents a significant challenge. This time of year is all about having fun, being with family and friends, and enjoying yourself. But these festivities can trigger memories of past alcohol or drug issues for some people. On top of that, there’s the stress of gift-giving and attending parties. So, it’s no surprise that many folks find it tough to stay sober during the holidays.

Some other reasons include:

  • Social Pressure: Holiday gatherings often revolve around alcohol, and there can be societal pressure to partake in drinking. It’s common for people to offer and encourage alcoholic beverages during these events.
  • Triggers and Stress: The holiday season can bring a lot of stress, whether due to family dynamics, financial pressures, or the expectation of creating the “perfect” holiday experience. These stressors can trigger the use of substances as a way of coping.
  • Festive Atmosphere: The festive atmosphere with decorations, music, and parties can make it more tempting to indulge in alcohol or drugs, as these substances are often associated with celebration and relaxation.
  • Nostalgia: For some, the holidays can trigger nostalgia and memories tied to substance use, making it harder to resist old habits.
  • Loneliness: On the flip side, the holidays can also be lonely or emotionally challenging for some individuals. This loneliness can drive them to seek solace through substance use.
  • Accessibility: Alcohol is more readily available during the holidays, both at gatherings and in stores, which can make it harder to stay away from it.
  • Celebratory Traditions: Many holiday traditions involve alcohol or substance use, and avoiding these can feel like missing out on the full holiday experience.

Overall, staying sober during the holidays requires careful planning, support, and coping strategies to navigate these challenges successfully.

Holidays That Challenge Sobriety

patient staying sober during holiday
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s—these three holidays, referred to by a recovery individual as a “trifecta of terror,” can be particularly demanding for individuals in recovery. The festivities during these times can present significant obstacles to maintaining sobriety and mental well-being. For many, the interactions with family members are a key factor contributing to the pressure experienced during these holidays.


Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around both food and family gatherings. For individuals in recovery, the presence of alcohol at the dinner table can pose a significant challenge. Often, they find themselves in situations where family members are indulging in alcoholic drinks. Coping with such moments can be demanding, but it’s crucial to remember that you have the power to choose not to drink merely because others are doing so. Your sobriety is in your control.


Staying sober during Christmas can be a formidable task for several reasons. Christmas is a joyous season marked by gatherings with loved ones, but it frequently features a profusion of alcoholic beverages at parties and family get-togethers. The presence of alcohol in abundance can create a strong temptation that challenges one’s commitment to sobriety.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve can be an especially challenging holiday for individuals on the path to sobriety. There’s a lot of pressure to drink, and the idea of celebrating with champagne can be tempting. Moreover, for those in recovery, this night can serve as a stark reminder of the negative experiences and setbacks they may have faced in the past year.

How to Stay Sober During the Holidays

The holidays can be an incredibly challenging time to maintain sobriety, given the numerous temptations and triggers that surround us. Yet, you do not need to confront this challenge on your own. Recognizing your triggers and building a strong support network will assist you in maintaining your dedication to sobriety.

Identify Your Triggers

Identifying triggers during family gatherings including feelings of loneliness, or even nostalgia for past holidays filled with alcohol, can resurface and trigger the urge to seek that escape once more. Being aware of situations that make you want to drink is a crucial first step. It’s important to have a plan in place for healthily handling these moments. Whether it’s reaching out to a friend, taking a walk, or temporarily removing yourself from the situation until you feel more in control, having a strategy can make a significant difference.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Your support system, whether it consists of family, friends, or a recovery group, is an invaluable resource to help lift you and hold you accountable. If you ever find yourself facing difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance. Openly communicate with others about how they can provide support, be it through phone calls, get-togethers, or by inviting you to sober activities. Remember, you deserve to savor the holidays without depending on alcohol. Your well-being and enjoyment matter.

Have an Escape Plan

Having a well-thought-out escape plan is crucial. Feeling stuck at a party where others are drinking can increase the risk of relapse. Pre-plan your escape routes. Drive yourself to events, giving you the freedom to leave when necessary. Ensure that your sober support network is aware of your whereabouts and maintain regular check-ins with them. If strong cravings strike, don’t hesitate to create a polite excuse and make your exit. Always remember, your sobriety takes top priority.

Stay Busy and Distracted

Staying busy and distracted is a powerful strategy. Having too much free time can often lead to cravings and temptations. So, make sure your schedule is filled with sober activities like volunteering, exercising, connecting with other sober friends, or pursuing a hobby. This proactive approach to staying engaged and distracted will fortify your commitment to sobriety.

Celebrate with Sober Traditions

One effective way to stay sober during the holidays is to establish your own set of sober traditions.  Start by planning activities that do not involve alcohol or drugs. Gather with friends and family who support your sobriety and create memories through various activities such as board games or cooking a festive meal. By embracing these sober traditions, you can focus on the joy and togetherness of the holiday season while safeguarding your sobriety.

Prioritize Self-Care

Your strength is closely tied to your well-being. During the holidays, commit to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and consistent sleep patterns. Pay attention to your body’s signals. Eat when you’re hungry and rest when you’re tired to maintain your sharpness and unwavering focus on your sobriety objectives. Additionally, consider indulging in extra self-care, such as a relaxing massage or a rejuvenating manicure, to enhance your overall sense of well-being during this season.

Make the Most of 12-Step Programs

Turning to 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous can be remarkably beneficial throughout the holiday season. Participating in these meetings will serve as a constant reminder of your sobriety motivations and equip you with effective strategies to confront temptation whenever it emerges.

The importance of having sober strategies in place cannot be overstated for individuals in recovery. These strategies serve as a safety net, providing guidance and support during challenging times, particularly when facing strong temptations to use substances, such as during holidays or high-stress situations. By embracing these suggestions, you can not only preserve your hard-earned sobriety but also savor every moment of joy that the season has to offer.

Break the Cycle of Addiction at Jaywalker

staying sober during the holidays

At Jaywalker, we recognize that the holiday season can be an especially challenging time for individuals aiming to break the cycle of addiction and maintain their sobriety. The festivities often bring forth unique triggers and temptations. However, we are here to help you navigate this critical period successfully.

Our comprehensive addiction treatment and recovery programs not only equip you with the tools to overcome addiction but also guide you to stay sober during the holidays. We focus on strategies to recognize and manage triggers from family events, stress, and past substance-related celebrations.

Joining the Jaywalker community means connecting with individuals who understand your journey and are dedicated to supporting your recovery during the holidays and beyond.

Contact us to break the cycle of addiction and enjoy a substance-free holiday season. Your health and happiness are worth it, and we are here to help you achieve your sobriety goals.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

Start Your Recovery

Jaywalker provides a specialized and personalized approach for men facing substance abuse, guiding them towards sustainable sobriety while fostering a robust camaraderie among peers on the journey to recovery.
Spread the love:

Experience the world-class men's treatment center in Carbondale, CO

"*" indicates required fields

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.