If you haven’t experienced the holidays sober since you’ve been in recovery, the thought of taking your first stab at Christmas and New Year’s might be more than a little scary. Even those who have been in recovery for months or years sometimes encounter added difficulties around the holiday due to the increased prevalence of triggers and tipsy or stressful family environments.
But for all the extra work you think you might have to do to maintain your sanity and sobriety, consider how much less work you will need to put into things like day-long hangovers and public embarrassments.
Unfortunately, holidays often force people into situations and events that they would sometimes rather avoid for one reason or another. We are also set up for unrealistic expectations of an ideal holiday that we never have and put us in contact with people (namely family) who can push our buttons and seemingly love to do so.
Moreover, it is essential to focus on all the great reasons for being sober during this time. When you consider all the benefits versus the temptations, you might come to realize that it’s probably not going to be as difficult as you might think.
Reasons to Stay Sober Over the Holidays
1. Drinking and purchasing drugs can be pretty darned expensive.
When you aren’t spending money on these things, you may find you have extra funds for purchases, not only for others but also for yourself. Most of us can easily think of a great way to treat ourselves to a gift for ourselves, and knowing you will have extra money may be an excellent incentive to do just that.
2. No blackouts, no buzzed embarrassments, and no regrets.
Anyone who’s had a problem with alcohol or drugs has, at some point, experienced what it feels like to have zero judgment capabilities when drunk or high at social events. You’ve probably said something or did something that you regretted more than once, and even likelier, it’s estranged you from friends or family who have had to deal with you while drunk. Staying sober means you won’t have lost memories or embarrassing apologies to make the next day—no damage control is needed.
3. Christmas morning and New Year’s Day, you will wake up without feeling hungover.
You’ll feel refreshed, and be ready to do presents, breakfast, dinner, everything. You’ll feel far more engaged in the day than you would have by starting with the hair of the dog or straight up nursing a hangover.
4. The holidays are among the worst times of the year for drinking and driving.
You won’t have to worry about risking your life or the lives of others by staying sober and in control. You can leave parties when you want to go without worrying about getting pulled over or having an accident. You can also play the role of designated driver—a function that drinking people can really appreciate.
5. It’s easier to connect with your family—especially children.
You don’t have to feel guilty for drinking around them or feel like you have something to hide—or miss Christmas to drink alone. In other words, you get to act like an adult. And you don’t need to wait for “social lubricant” to start taking effect before you enter a conversation or join in an activity.
6. You can enjoy looking and feeling your best.
You won’t be getting the sweats from drinking or end up with under-eye circles or red eyes or feeling puffy and bloated.
7. No unwanted surprises!
That is, no rogue texting to exes or finding excessive charges on your credit cards. No waking up to a stranger in your bed (or memories of one). You remember pictures that were taken and what was going on at the time. You didn’t make fake, alcohol- or drug-fueled connections with others.
Also, you don’t have to worry about who was watching. There’s usually a family member or friend who has their eye on you when you are drinking, whether you know it or not. This time around, you don’t have to hear about the next day.
8. No injuries.
You don’t have to worry about falling or harming yourself (or someone else) while decorating, dancing, navigating the stairs, or participating in an activity.
9. You’ll be less likely to argue with family and friends.
Holidays often bring a wealth of bittersweet memories, and when you aren’t sober, you are more apt to take the bait and engage in drama—or even be the cause of it.
10. Finally, you’ll be saving many extra calories.
For most people, this is never a bad thing. Cocktails can be especially fattening and sugary, but even beer and wine can add up quickly—not to mention alcoholic eggnog. You might find you won’t gain holiday weight when you abstain or may even lose a couple of pounds.
To summarize, you can see that the benefits of sobriety during the holidays are going to outweigh any perceived negatives on your part. The best way to enjoy this time is to be clear-minded and in control. You’ll thank yourself for it!