Holidays in recovery are challenging, but perhaps none more than New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is a time when people typically celebrate the past year and make resolutions for the upcoming year. The reality of most New Year’s Eve celebrations is that they not only include alcohol, the day seems obsessed with it. Drunken New Year’s parties are so common they have become a cliché. Obviously this can be a very difficult time for individuals in recovery. Knowing how to navigate this challenging time is imperative for maintaining sobriety.
New Year’s Eve is an emotional time for everyone. The ending of one year and the beginning of another usually leads to conflicting feelings of sadness, regret, loss, joy and hope. This is often a time of reflecting back on the past year and past actions, sometimes fondly, sometimes not so fondly. These intense feelings can trigger someone to using.
New Year’s Eve can feel lonely if you don’t have sober friends you can reach out to, because so many New Year’s celebrations involve alcohol and drugs. If possible, contact friends and support several days prior to New Year's Eve to help you feel connected and to minimize feelings of loneliness. Reaching out to your sponsor can be a big help and can provide positive support for you around New Year’s Eve.
It is important for individuals in recovery to have a toolbox of steps to take to enjoy a sober New Year’s Eve celebration. Having a definite safety plan is encouraged. Attending meetings is one way to receive support and partake in fun, sober, holiday-esque activities that are usually hosted by certain fellowships during this time. Hosting your own sober New Year’s Eve get-together is another way to make sure you resist the temptation to use. Being around sober friends and family is a good idea for those in recovery.
If thoughts of using begin to creep in, it is important to remember how bad things were when you were in active addiction. Remember the consequences you had from using. Realize that this time of year tends to glorify alcohol and partying. So, don’t let fond memories keep you from realistically remembering the bad times and the consequences you faced from using.
If you must attend a party that will involve drinking, plan ahead. Take a sober companion to accompany you to a party. You can hold each other accountable throughout the night. Have a nonalcoholic drink in your hand to avoid constantly being asked. And leave promptly if you feel triggered. See our 6 Tips for Sober Celebrating for additional ideas for handling a holiday parties.
If things get tough, remember, the day will pass and upholding your sobriety is something that you can cherish and applaud yourself for surviving New Year’s Eve. Setting New Year’s resolutions enables you to identify goals that you can work towards throughout the New Year. Happy Holiday’s and a Happy New Year!
Finally, look for fellowship meetings in your area for sober holiday gatherings. Here are some links to Chicago fellowship meetings that host sober holiday events:
Lincoln Park Alano Club: New Year’s Eve Dance http://www.lpac-online.com/2.html
The Rec Room: New Year’s Eve Classy to Sassy 2015 Event. 7:30pm. 4138 N. Sheridan Rd. http://recroomchicago.org/events
New Hope Recovery Center is available to answer your questions and help you or your loved one. 888-808-4673 (HOPE)
Written By: New Hope Recovery Center
Some holidays are more difficult than others for recovering alcoholics; St.Patrick’s day is often one of those holidays. It was once celebrated as a day to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, it has evolved into an “all you can drink” party that has little to do with Ireland or St.Patrick at all.
In most American cities the holiday takes over and the parties spill out of the bars and into the streets. Chicago Taxi drivers now charge a hefty fee for anyone that throws up in the cab, this is not an unlikely occurrence on St. Patrick's Day. There are green shamrocks as far as the eye can see and the sounds of bagpipes blow long into the night. Starting early in the morning and going strong into night, St.Patrick's Day is a holiday centered and focused on one thing; the consumption of alcohol.
Where are the recovering alcoholics during this time? Many recovering alcoholics despise this day for the obvious reasons. It is one of the few days out of the year they can have a hard time trying to avoid this type of behavior. While it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook on this day, impossible it is not. There is no reason a recovering alcoholic should feel worried, scared or intimidated on this day. Here are some helpful tips to stay sober and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day:
- First and foremost, you don’t have to surround yourself with the mayhem. Plan accordingly ahead of time to leave the hotspots during this time. If you live in an area of your city that is a hotbed for bars, plan a day trip outside of that area and return once the festivities die down. In most cities spring is just starting to blossom. Celebrate by going to a forest preserve or nature sanctuary far secluded from any bars or parties.
- If leaving isn't an option for you, try to avoid the crowds as much as possible. This means staying in and enjoying time at home. Plan ahead by getting all your grocery shopping done and making sure you have no reason to travel through the seas of people. You can celebrate by making a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner and watching The Commitments.
- Find a sober St.Patricks day party. Keep an eye peeled for sober activities at meetings and clubs in the weeks leading up to the holiday. If you’re willing to venture through your city this is a great option for any recovering alcoholics. Most Alano clubs or AA groups have sober gatherings on holidays, and there is no better way to keep from drinking or being triggered than surrounding yourself with other sober friends.
- Stay busy. Make a list of things you need to do and knock it out while everyone else is wasting time. By staying busy and proactive you will not only be taking your mind off of the drinking. You will be congratulating yourself and patting yourself on the back over what you’re getting done on a day most people don't remember. Make a list of ten things you want to accomplish and stay busy.
- Keep on living your life like it’s any other day. Not all recovering alcoholics are triggered or feel uncomfortable around drinking or partying, and not all of us feel the need to change our way of living over other people just because we are sober. If this is the case, do what you would do any other day to stay sober and be grateful you no longer need to live that way.
New Hope Recovery Center is a substance abuse and addiction treatment facility located in Chicago, IL. If you know someone who needs professional help with addiction, please call for more information 1-888-707-4673.
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