There are just a few more days left in the year, and your New Year’s Eve plans are likely either in progress or already set in place. Whether you’re planning to ring in the new year publicly or privately, you’ll have to ask yourself a question: “Will I be drinking?” If the opening minutes of 2019 were a blur and New Year’s morning was spent feeling hungover, you might be thinking of taking it easy on the celebrations this year. Maybe you’re recovering from an alcohol use disorder, or perhaps you’re simply looking to celebrate the end of 2019 without substances. Regardless, there are many ways to enjoy the holiday completely sober.

Though alcohol is common at holiday celebrations, you’re in complete control of how much you have to drink. In fact, you don’t have to drink at all. You can say goodbye to 2019 and celebrate the first hours of 2020 while sober. You can enjoy yourself with friends and family and remember it the next day. You can even wake up on New Year’s Day feeling refreshed and headache-free.

Here are a few ways you can control your alcohol intake during this week’s New Year festivities.

Planning For a Sober New Year’s Celebration

If you’re used to drinking during celebratory events, ringing in the new year without alcohol may seem difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure you remain completely sober for the new year. Here are a few options:

  • Find a sober venue: There are New Year’s Eve celebrations and venues that don’t serve alcohol at all. Check your local online listings to find an alcohol-free event near you.
  • Host your own party: If you’d rather skip the rowdy crowds and have a little more control over your evening, you can invite your close friends over for a sober celebration! Fill the table with fun board games or find a fun but competitive video game to play on the television screen (just remember to change the channel before the ball drops at midnight!).
  • Volunteer to be a designated driver: If you’re going to a place that has alcohol, you can hold yourself responsible by being the designated driver. This way, you’ll also have a good card to play when someone asks the question, “Why aren’t you drinking?”
  • Stay with sober people you trust: If you feel like the temptation to drink may be too overwhelming, stick with other sober friends who can help hold you accountable. If everyone in your group is drinking, have a sober friend you can call if you feel you’re about to “just have one.”
  • Have an exit plan: For newly sober people, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed in situations where they used to drink. If you find yourself coming close to getting a drink, it may be time to drop out of the situation entirely. Give yourself permission to leave if you need to. It may also help to think of an excuse earlier in the day that you can use later, such as, “I have to be up early for a family event.” However, you can also be upfront and honest if you’d like.

If You’re Planning to Drink in Moderation

Even for those who are not in recovery, December 31 can pose the risk of going overboard. If you’re sober curious, this might be the year to change things up and try a sober New Year’s Eve.

If you’re not choosing to forego alcohol entirely, there are still ways you can drink in moderation, remain safe and stay in control of your intake this New Year’s Eve:

  • Set a limit: Everyone has a different tolerance level for alcohol, so it’s important to know your limit and set it before you begin drinking. Make sure you pace yourself and avoid going over your limit throughout the night. It will also help to have someone with you to hold you accountable.
  • Drink slowly: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard drink equates to 12 oz of regular beer, 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits. By doing some rough equations and pacing your drinking, you can ensure you avoid binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as drinking more than four drinks in two hours for women and more than five drinks in two hours for men.
  • Be aware of the effects of alcohol: Alcohol can make you more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking more than you planned. It’s easy to say you’ll limit yourself while you’re still sober, but your mind thinks differently under the influence of alcohol. This is another reason why it’s helpful to have others who can help hold you accountable.
  • Have a way to get home: In situations where you’re drinking, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Use a taxi service,  take an Uber or Lyft to and from your destination or have a designated driver. You may think you’re sober enough to drive, but even a couple of drinks can put you and others at risk on the road.

With these New Year’s safety tips, you can ring in 2020 safely and under the conditions you choose. Remember, while some people can manage their alcohol intake, it can be a struggle for others. Alcohol can be addictive and dangerous, so it’s important to recognize if and when it’s time to seek help. If you think that you or someone you love needs help for their alcohol use, call The Recovery Village. We’re here to help, 24-hours a day, even on holidays.

  • Sources

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “What Is A Standard Drink?” (n.d.). Accessed December 12, 2019.