The holidays are notorious for booze-fueled merriment at family gatherings, work parties, and get-togethers with friends. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s line up all within a month and a half of each other, making for a party-heavy time of year.

For those who struggle with a substance or alcohol use disorder, the holidays tend to be an especially difficult season each year. For example:

  • 16 percent of adults report drinking more during the holidays than they do any other time of year.
  • 22 percent of those who attended a holiday party for work feel pressured to drink.
  • 50 percent of people admit that alcohol plays at least some part in family gatherings during the holidays.
  • 96 percent of adults either went to work hungover following a party or know someone who did.

Those who are either in recovery or who are trying to get sober are clearly up against the odds during the holiday season. It is nearly impossible to avoid alcohol entirely with the number of parties they are likely to attend during this time.

So does that mean the holiday season is the most challenging time to get sober? Is it possible to get sober during this time of year? If you’re trying to stay sober this season, it IS possible to get — and stay — that way during the holidays, but it takes planning and dedication.

Make Sure You Are Entirely Ready

The most important thing when getting sober during the holiday season is to make sure that you are ready. Getting sober is not easy and doing so during such an alcohol-infused time of year can be challenging. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though, if you’re sure you’re ready to get sober.

When you make the decision to cut alcohol out of your life, you should not take it lightly. If you still have any idea in the back of your head about continuing drinking, this will be much more difficult. You’ve likely experienced some consequences that led to your decision. Keep these in mind when the thought of having a drink comes up.

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Develop a Plan to Stay Sober

Coming up with a plan to stay sober can help you avoid picking up a drink during this challenging month. There are a few different options you can use as a plan for staying sober:

  • Intensive Outpatient Program: Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are an option for treatment that provides care on an outpatient basis. This means there is no requirement to stay overnight once the day’s programming is over. It works well for those who are in school or working full time and don’t have the ability to attend inpatient treatment. The support of your group in IOP can help stay accountable for your recovery.
  • 12-Step Meetings: These peer support groups are a free option for those seeking long-term recovery. There are many different programs for specific drugs, each stemming from Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12-step program. Having a consistent meeting schedule, a list of others to call, and a sponsor provides a dependable support network to help you stay sober during challenging times.
  • Accountability Partner: Let someone you trust know that you plan to get sober. Whether they are a spouse or friend, or whether they are capable of using alcohol responsibly or they are also sober, pick someone who will hold you to your decision. This is especially helpful if the person will be with you at the get-togethers you attend. And when temptations arise, your accountability partner can help remind you why you made the decision to get sober in the first place.

Don’t Give up on Yourself If You Slip

There is one thing to keep in mind when getting sober: it is never an easy thing to do. If you slip up, your journey isn’t over. Re-apply yourself to your original dedication, plug yourself back into your sober network, and start again.

Getting sober is a challenging process, regardless of the time of year. Once you have depended upon drugs or alcohol to get you through life, especially for a long period of time, learning to live without them takes time. Some scoff at those who are substance dependent, insisting that achieving long-term recovery is simply a matter of willpower.

Anyone who has been or is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol knows this is just not true. This is why finding a sober network, whether through treatment, 12-step meetings, or other sober friends, is helpful. When you have a group of people who understand where you’re coming from, it’s easier to stay sober, especially during the holiday season.

Staying sober during the holiday season is challenging, but it’s not impossible. However, there is no harm in asking for the help you need during this time of year. Reach out to The Recovery Village to find out which center is nearest you and which outpatient program suits your needs. Don’t struggle alone — help is closer than you think. Call 352.771.2700 today to get started.