How to Get Through The Holidays Without Drinking
The holidays are upon us. They’re a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends and to reunite with those we may not have seen in a long time. In addition to reaching out through Christmas cards and social media posts, we have many opportunities to get together through parties — work parties, neighborhood parties or maybe even one you’re hosting.
Most people entertain with an overabundance of food and drink. It’s just how we’re inclined to celebrate. Alcoholic beverages are the norm for a party, not the exception. Good hosts offer several types of alcoholic beverages to please their guests. Some don’t feel a party is complete without alcohol, especially during the holidays.
If you are a recovering alcoholic, someone who just wants a break from alcohol, or someone who simply does not drink, parties can be a source of discomfort. You may want to avoid parties altogether, but if you go, you need a plan. If being alone still tempts you to drink, you need to know in advance how you will handle the urges. No matter your particular situation, there’s a way to get through the holidays without drinking alcohol. Here are some tips for avoiding inebriation:
Stay Dry at Parties
Be honest with yourself. Can you go to a party and not drink? Would it be better or worse to be alone? If you feel you might be tempted to drink and it’s imperative you don’t, then stay home. If weakness means a couple of drinks, and that’s no big deal, then go. But have a prepared response to the possible temptations.
Hosts will offer you a drink, not because they want to ruin your sobriety, but because it’s the hospitable thing to do. Drinkers tend to encourage others to drink because it’s part of the comradery and celebration. You can socialize among them and resist without feeling uncomfortable or offending anyone.
Get yourself a drink as soon as you arrive and hang on to it. Enjoy some seltzer or tonic water with a lemon or lime wedge in it. People who might otherwise take notice of you “not drinking” and say something won’t realize you aren’t. If you aren’t drinking anything, you can expect to be offered something over and over again by well-meaning hosts and guests.
You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but people will ask. Have a response ready like “no thanks, I’m trying to lose weight,” or “I’m taking a break for a bit.” Be assertive with well-meaning but pushy people.
Have a set time when you are going to leave. Prepare an excuse in advance. You have to leave at 11:00 because you have a commitment tomorrow. You don’t have to lie but do so if that’s your only solution. More than likely, you won’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Be sure to thank the host when you leave, but don’t feel you must say goodbye to everyone else.
Discover New Drinks
You can enjoy drinking beverages without the alcohol. Especially if you’re a social drinker, it can be hard to just give up the experience of it all. You might have to work a little harder to make a diet soda “fun,” but it is possible. Better yet, do yourself a favor and discover a new drink. Celebrate New Year’s Eve with “kid champagne,” sparkling apple or grape juice marketed in a sparkling wine bottle.
If you loved Shirley Temples as a kid, rediscover them as an adult. Restaurants serve them, and any decent bartender will know how to make one. Make sure you get your cherry stuck with a plastic sword. Alao
If drinks like that are too sweet, try flavored carbonated water. It has no calories and just a subtle hint of lemon, raspberry or many other flavors to choose from. Tonic water and club soda, typically used in alcoholic mixed drinks, taste great on their own over ice or with a cherry or piece of citrus fruit. Use a nice glass and make the best of your new favorite drink. Try some of these delicious mocktails.
If you love beer, look for NA (non-alcoholic) versions of your favorite brands. If you are a recovering alcoholic, beware that NA beers can be a trigger to make you go for the real thing. This isn’t an option for everyone. Consult your doctor or therapist.
Find New Activities and Friends
Do some soul searching about your life and your habits. If you are someone who never drank, this doesn’t really apply. But if you are in recovery or are just trying not to drink so much, take a look at the people you associate with and the activities you describe as “fun.” If they involve eating and drinking alcohol, then you may want to find new passions in your life.
Organize activities with others in recovery or reach out to new friends who don’t want alcohol in their lives. Instead of a Christmas party, go sledding or ice skating. Start a holiday crafts group, or organize a nature hike. If you miss the parties, have one for attendees who don’t drink. You’ll have just as much fun without any of the discomfort or mental baggage.
Forgive and Regroup
If you succumb to the pressure or desire to drink alcohol, please don’t dwell on it. Think about what changed your mind and be prepared for the next time it occurs. You’re familiar with how to deal with the situation, and if you need to – follow these tips to sober up quickly. It’s tough to give up something you enjoy, even if you know it’s unhealthy for you. Forgive yourself, regroup and correct your methods to stay sober. If you haven’t been drinking for awhile, freshen up on your alcohol knowledge and just make responsible decision for your health.
If it’s that important to you, there may be some people or events you may have to remove from your life, at least for the holiday season. Toxic people can trigger dependence on alcohol. Fun and frivolity can degenerate into drunkenness quicker than you might realize.
Follow the teachings of your recovery program if you’re in one. Join one if you think you need the extra help. Regardless, take a deep look inward and identify why you need a life free from alcohol. Celebrate sobriety this holiday season. It may be the best gift you can give yourself. It can last forever, and it will never wear out.