Twelve Practical Tips for a Sober Holiday

Since New Year’s Eve is known for partying, I thought it might be a good time to bring out an old blog from my days of working in the substance abuse field.  (This came from conference material, and while many of these suggestions are focused on those in a 12 Step program, most can be heeded by any of us, by being a little creative and substituting something from our own lives where it talks about 12 Step activities and meetings).

Here are twelve practical tips many 12 Step groups offer for any holiday:

1)   Plan extra 12 Step activities.  Take newcomers to a meeting, answer phones at a clubhouse or central office, volunteer for Twelfth Step calls, speak at meetings, tell your story, or visit alcoholic wards at hospitals.

2)  Be host to 12 Step friends, especially newcomers.  If you can’t throw a formal party, take one person out for coffee.

3) Keep your 12 Step telephone list with you at all times.  If you experience an urge to use, postpone everything until you’ve called someone who understands and can remind you of your priorities.

4) Find out about special 12 Step events. Many groups sponsor holiday parties, special meetings, or other celebrations.  Go to them.  If you’re timid, take a supportive friend.

5) Skip any drinking occasion you are uneasy about.  Many of us were clever at coming up with excuses when drinking.  This is where we can put that talent to use.  No office party is as important as saving your life.

6) If you have to go to a party where use is probable, take someone with you who is supportive of your sobriety.

7) Don’t think you have to stay late.  Plan an “important date” in advance which you have to keep.

8) Go to church.  Any church.

9) Don’t sit around brooding.  Read a book, visit a museum, take a walk, or write a letter.

10) Don’t start getting upset about all those holiday temptations now.  Remember to take each holiday “one day at a time.”

11) Enjoy the beauty of holiday joy.  Maybe you cannot give material gifts, but this year you can give love.

12) “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”  (Step 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Here are some other choices we can make for ourselves during the holidays:

1) We can keep a realistic attitude by staying in the present and not dwelling on those past experiences and traditions that keep whispering, “This would be better if. . .”

2) We can choose to keep a sense of humor about it all.

3) If the holiday stress is building up, we can choose to take a break and do something different like going for a walk, breathing deeply, or calling a friend in the program.

4) We can avoid major life changes during the holidays by remembering it is not a good time to move, change jobs, or begin or end intimate relationships.

5) We can keep a hopeful attitude.  There is much to be said for the old adage of counting our blessings.  They are a wellspring of hope.

6) Through prayer and meditation, the guidance of a Higher Power will help us make the right choice each time.