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How To: Stay Sober During Binge Drinking Holidays

There are certain holidays that Americans love to celebrate with excessive partying. These ‘binge drinking holidays’ are anything but celebratory for those recovering from alcohol abuse or alcoholism– especially when your friends and family are inviting you to events or sharing posts of their drinking adventures all over social media. When you’re struggling with addictions or in recovery from a substance abuse or alcohol addiction, these reminders of a past lifestyle can be tough to bear.

Below, we’ll go through some steps for coping with a binge drinking holiday while maintaining your sobriety.

Binge Drinking Holidays to Prepare For

If someone used the phrase ‘binge drinking holiday,’ chances are the first dates to pop in your head are March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) or May 5 (Cinco de Mayo). Unfortunately, several other dates involve excessive alcohol use as well. Independence Day is often filled with fireworks shows, backyard barbecues, and drinks. Between 2007 and 2011, 40 percent of all highway deaths resulted from drunk drivers during the Fourth of July weekend. In addition, 25 percent of distilled spirits profits happen in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This is typically kicked off by ‘Blackout Wednesday,’ the night before Thanksgiving, as holiday-goers often party with their friends before spending a day with their families.

When you’re trying to stay sober, what do you do when these holidays are approaching?

Tips for Maintaining Sobriety When Friends and Family Drink When your friends and family are used to you drinking with them, it can be awkward hanging out again at first. You may (read: probably will) be asked questions about your new interest in sober living, and some friends may even tease you for it. Knowing this going in will help you be prepared. When it comes to holiday gatherings and mental health, be equipped with the following.
  1. Have a support network. Support networks can be divided into two categories: having group options for attending meetings when you’re feeling tempted and having a couple of friends you can call in the moment if you need to. Support is invaluable, especially when your life in recovery seems lonely or isolating or when you’re experiencing triggers to drink.
  2. Communicate with your friends. You don’t have to tell every friend every detail about your choice not to drink; you don’t even need to tell one friend. If you decide to go out with your friends and you know there will be alcohol, you can say something along the lines of, “No. I’m not drinking tonight.” when offered a drink. And if you have a friend you trust, you can talk to them about not drinking. Most of the time, your real friends will support your decision if you hold fast to it.
  3. Drink this instead. Holding a non-alcoholic beverage, such as a bottle of water or a soda, does a few things. First, it gives you something to drink and hold with your hands. Second, if you have a full drink, your friends are (hopefully) less likely to offer to grab you another drink.
  4. Find new activities. It may be hard to celebrate holidays a different way, but it’s possible. Hold a gathering with your friends but ask that no one brings alcohol. Or, find something new to do with your friends that typically doesn’t involve alcohol, like hiking or snowboarding.
  5. Give yourself time to heal. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. Being able to hang out with friends and family who are drinking while maintaining your sobriety won’t happen overnight either. If you know you’ll be triggered at a bar, club, or family situation, then stay far away from it. It’s ok to tell friends you can’t hang out or to bail on plans if you’re feeling the itch to drink.

Remember, your mental health is more important than going out on these holidays. There are 360 other days in a year to build and maintain your relationships with family and old friends.

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction or maintaining sobriety, reach out to our team to see how the programs at Core Recovery can help. We’re available online or by phone at (602) 536-4228.

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