People in recovery can often feel like they have their noses pressed against the glass on New Year’s Eve. The holidays are supposed to be about new beginnings, fresh starts, and promises to be the best versions of ourselves in the coming year.
However, holidays come with a culture of drinking and using that can make people who have battled substance abuse anxious. It can make some people feel on edge and unable to enjoy themselves. Ultimately, it can freeze them out of having fun with their loved ones.
It might be weird to watch friends and family making plans, filling their glasses, and not worrying about the consequences. People in recovery might feel alienated or a lack of control, which can lead to a cycle of relapse.
If you want a safe and sober New Year’s Eve, check out Recovery Unplugged’s tips for staying sober on NYE.
Change the Narrative: Partying Sober on New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve shouldn’t be about drinking. Seek out sober gatherings that are more about celebrating and less about getting sick from alcohol. You don’t need drama or to forget the very memories you’re trying to create.
Try to avoid bars or other environments where booze is freely flowing. Start contacting friends and family early and let them know your concerns. See if they have anything planned that you’d like to join, and if not, maybe throw your own sober party.
The Best Policy: Be Honest with Yourself
If you absolutely have to go to New Year’s Eve parties where you know there’s going to be alcohol, be honest. Sit yourself down and consider your level of risk tolerance.
The reality is there are some people in recovery who are perfectly fine being around booze. Others might want to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the bottle. If you’re part of a fellowship, talk to your sponsor and the people you trust to hear their opinions.
If you decide you can handle it, practice saying “no thanks” or “I’m good.” Carry a non-alcoholic beverage with you and have an escape plan.
Be honest and recognize if the environment suddenly becomes overwhelming. The biggest thing is to make sure you avoid major triggers that can lead to relapse.
Use Your Recovery Toolkit
The recovery process gives us the tools we need to stay sober in high-pressure situations. This can mean different things to different people.
For some people this may mean practicing avoidance techniques learned in treatment. For others, it can mean going to more meetings or therapy sessions to get guidance and feedback. Some people prefer to reach out to the alumni community at their treatment center through social media.
Whatever your preferred practice may be, the goal is to use the knowledge gained in recovery to stay strong.
Give Yourself A Break
When making New Year’s Eve Plans, giving yourself a break means accepting there are some places you’d rather not go. A big part of this is not worrying about what others think or feel about it.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) can make you feel like you need to put yourself at unnecessary risk. The important people in your life will understand what you’ve been through and won’t pressure you to go anywhere.
Your reasons for not wanting to put yourself at vulnerability for relapse are real and valid. Don’t ever feel like you need to make the choice between your recovery and “letting your friends down.”
For those who are new to recovery, it can become all too easy to dwell on past mistakes. It’s easy to fixate on the negative things you did over the past year.
Putting ourselves in this headspace can quickly lead to self-blame and guilt that we simply don’t need in our lives. As much as we consider New Year’s a fresh start, it can be hard to find power in new beginnings.
Instead of thinking about the bad things you’ve done in the past, think about how you can be present. Making peace with the past is important to being productive and your best self in the future.
Set Realistic Goals for Sober New Year’s Eve and Beyond
One of the most helpful ways to stay sober during New Year’s Eve and beyond is focusing on the possibilities of the future. This means setting realistic short-term goals each day or week while also keeping an eye on the big picture.
We should not, however, crush ourselves under the weight of unrealistic expectations. Stick to everyday goals that help move forward in life but keep the “long game” in perspective.
Setting goals helps us envision a better future, while also gently reminding us of what we have to lose.
Social Triggers: Too Busy Vs. Not Busy Enough
Many of us tend to measure where we are in life by how we ring in the New Year. For people who are trying to stay sober on New Year’s Eve, there are two types extremely of social triggers. Either you’re overwhelmingly busy, or lonely and isolated.
It’s okay to want to watch the ball drop with loved ones. Try and surround yourself with a supportive community and take care of your mental health.
Make sure you don’t get discouraged if plans don’t go exactly your way. It doesn’t mean you’re any less loved or valued by the important people in your life.
If you experience a setback in your attempt to stay sober on New Year’s Eve, don’t panic. Call a loved one, tell them what happened, and get yourself back into addiction treatment.
Relapse is unfortunately common in recovery, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world or your life.
Recovery Unplugged wishes everyone a happy, safe, and sober New Year.