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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Survive the Holidays without Alcohol

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By Michael Leach, Guest Columnist

How you stay sober over the holidays is a question that people in recovery ask and someone who wants to avoid alcohol this holiday season. 

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an obscene amount of alcohol is consumed. Unfortunately, illicit drugs also play a role in this. 

The holiday season does not have to be an obstacle to maintaining sobriety, nor should it be an obstacle for someone who does not want to drink over the holidays.

Surviving the holidays without alcohol is possible and is not an uphill battle. 

There is a harsh reality with excessive alcohol and drug use. Excessive alcohol use is the third leading preventable cause of death in North Carolina

Close to 5,000 people died in 2020 because of heavy alcohol use. Roughly 90% of heavy drinkers are not alcohol dependent, and the holidays fuel excessive drinking. 

Finally, in 2020, 24% of all traffic fatalities in North Carolina were alcohol-related. “A successful method for avoiding drinking and driving is by incorporating holiday mocktails at these celebrations,” said Marcel Gemme of Addicted.org. “More and more people want to enjoy a holiday beverage without alcohol. It also eliminates drinking and driving and all the other damaging effects of alcohol.”

Some of the following tips may help you to survive the holidays without alcohol. 

Take the mindset of knowing you are not going to drink and envision yourself not drinking or doing drugs. 

This is the mindset that every recovering addict has, and anyone who wants to stay sober over the holidays can use this. Binge drinking over the holidays begins with planting a seed in our heads that it is the holidays and we need to let loose. 

Even if you plant a seed that you might drink, it leaves the door open for failure or relapse. The strength to remain sober comes from an undivided decision not to drink or use drugs, for that matter. Tell yourself you are not going to do it, write it down, and repeat it to yourself. 

Have a sobriety toolbox ready. It does not matter if you are in recovery from addiction or want to stay sober over the holidays; you will need tools to make this happen. 

  • Bring non-alcoholic drinks with you or arrange this ahead of time with fun recipes for mocktails. 
  • Have responses planned and rehearsed for when people ask why you are not drinking. 
  • Drive your vehicle to the party or gathering. 
  • Have an exit plan for when you want to leave if things become challenging. 
  • Bring a sober friend or family member for added support. 
  • Do not ignore the negative emotions but focus on the positive reasons for remaining sober. 
  • Practice self-care, such as getting proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise. 

Every year more and more people recognize the dangers associated with heavy alcohol and drug use over the holidays. You are not alone in your choice to be sober, whether in recovery or not. Focus on the true meaning of the holidays, and fill your cup with love, joy, compassion, and gratitude. 

Author Bio

Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a healthcare professional specializing in Substance Use Disorder and addiction recovery. He is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, and contributor to the healthcare website Recovery Begins.

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