Some of the most festive holidays of the year occur in December. During this month, people prepare for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Saint Lucy’s Day and the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then at the end of it all, on Dec. 31, comes New Year’s Eve.

Also held in December is Hanukkah, one of the most anticipated holidays within the Jewish community. Hanukkah comprises eight nights of celebration. On each night, a candle is added to a candelabrum called a menorah to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jeruselum. This year, Hanukkah takes place Dec. 2–10.

During celebrations, food and alcohol may be served. If you’re in recovery from alcohol addiction, the presence of alcohol at a Hanukkah party can be triggering. You might experience psychological distress, including intense cravings, at the sight of alcohol. However, it is possible to enjoy Hanukkah without having to worry about alcohol use.

Speak With the Host

Before attending a Hanukkah party, you should speak with the event’s host to see if alcohol will be available. If drinking at the party is anticipated, you may want to consider attending another Hanukkah event — especially if you are new to recovery.

You can also talk to the host about your recovery progress and how important your sobriety is to your well-being. After speaking with you, they may decide not to allow alcohol at their event or make arrangements to help you avoid alcohol-related festivities.

Spend Time With People Who Support Your Sobriety

Support is important during recovery. Friends and family can provide you with the advice, encouragement and hope needed to help you avoid a recurrence of alcohol use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, support from family is an important aspect of sustaining recovery.

If you’re attending a Hanukkah event that might include alcohol, try to bring a loved one with you. A friend of family member who understands your situation might offer words of encouragement or find other ways to ease your anxiety if it becomes intense. Having a person there to support you might help you have a more enjoyable experience.

Attend an Alcohol-Free Event

Not all Hanukkah parties include alcohol. In fact, some events specifically forbid drinking. If you’re in recovery, do your research and find out if any sober Hanukkah events will take place near you.

At a sober Hanukkah event, you are less likely to experience triggers and cravings. Attending an alcohol-free party can reduce your chances of engaging in drinking activities and increase your odds of sustaining your sobriety.

dreidel on table

Console With Others in Recovery

Always remember that you are not alone in your recovery. Before attending any event that might include alcohol, talk to other people in recovery about how they handled these situations. You may be able to solicit advice from people at a 12-step meeting, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Many individuals in recovery strive to support one another. If you ask for their guidance, they may be able to offer some insightful advice for avoiding trigger and cravings that can lead to a setback in your recovery.

Find Other Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah

Attending parties is not the only way to celebrate Hanukkah. If you think that participating in this social gathering could compromise your sobriety, you should find alternative ways to celebrate the occasion. Luckily, you can commemorate Hanukkah in many ways.

For example, you could talk to children about the importance of celebrating Hanukkah and teach them other aspects of Judaism. You could also donate to causes that celebrate free speech and religious freedom.

For many people within the Jewish community, Hanukkah is an important holiday because it commemorates how Jewish people rose up against their oppressors around 200 B.C. You might want to celebrate this special occasion with others, but fear that the prevalence of alcohol could derail your sobriety.

However, it is possible to have fun during recovery. You can still celebrate your religion and engage in food, games and other activities without having to stress about your recovery. It takes time and commitment to fully understand your own recovery, something that’s important to do before putting yourself in a situation that may make you uncomfortable.

Eight Sober Nights: Ways to Avoid Alcohol During Hanukkah
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Matt Gonzales

About Matt Gonzales

Matt Gonzales is an award-winning content writer. Since 2016, he has covered the latest drug trends, analyzed complex medical reports and shared compelling stories of people in recovery from addiction. Matt leverages his experiences in addiction research to provide hope to individuals grappling with substance use or mental health disorders.

After achieving a degree in journalism, Matt began his career as a professional writer in 2011. He has written for various online platforms, including Yahoo! Inc., and has served as the head writer of a weekly journal and quarterly magazine. His articles have garnered thousands of views and social media shares.

While writing about addiction, Matt has interviewed physicians, politicians, nonprofit leaders and other experts in the field of addiction. In 2018, Matt won a Digital Health Award for a feature story about the laws and misconceptions associated with medical and recreational marijuana.

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