A sober Christmas may seem absurd to the average person, and the holiday season is heavily fuelled by alcohol. Yet, sobriety will be the most longed-for gift for someone with an active addiction or recovering from alcoholism.

The festive period can aggravate existing symptoms and urges. It’s a time where alcohol consumption is accepted and enjoyed to unhealthy, overindulgent levels. For someone who’s already battling the physical and psychological damages of alcohol abuse, Christmas can be an overstimulating period.

For someone newly sober, remaining sober at Christmas will be the aim. Yet due to various triggers linked to the holiday season, old habits, urges and cravings can return.

It’s essential to be prepared for this time of year to have the right mindset, tools, and action plan to remain alcohol-free. Here’s how to have a sober Christmas – a guide to help you prepare.

This Christmas or to carry your intentions forward into the New Year, reach out to Addiction Advocates for further support.


How to stay sober this Christmas

Christmas is heavily associated with alcohol consumption. Yet it’s also a time which can be enjoyed as sober. Here’s how to have a sober Christmas – a guide for addicts, recovering addicts or those who want to reduce their exposure.

Vocalise your sobriety

If you’re planning to stay sober, it’s essential to set your intentions. Vocalise them with yourself and with those you trust. You’ll feel more accountable to deliver and experience an alcohol-free festive period by sharing your plans.

Be mindful of your triggers

Certain situations, feelings, or influences will trigger your cravings and urges. Especially if you are battling addictive behaviours or have worked through them as newly sober, high-risk situations and environments are expected. Being mindful, completely aware and prepared for such triggers is essential, and you’ll have the upper hand over alcohol and its influential traits.

Prepare with coping strategies

Coping will be different for each person. Some will rely on exercise to work through cravings, others will thrive through social and supportive environments, whilst others will prefer self-care and some alone time. Finding what works for you and helps you remain sober will prepare you for the persuasive pairing of alcohol and Christmas.

Have an escape plan

One of our tips on having a sober Christmas surrounds the ability to say no. An escape plan will help you say no, avoid uncomfortable or influential situations, and suppress any relapse signs. For example, you may be invited or even attend a Christmas party. Expected to expose you to alcohol consumption, having a plan B to fall back on is wise. Some recovering addicts will take a sober friend, rely on trustworthy family members to have their back, or turn down the invite and instead attend a sober event.

Avoid high-risk environments/situations

Knowing your triggers, you’ll be aware of a high-risk situation/environment. For some, stress and family get-togethers can be high risk. For others, loneliness and withdrawal from the festivities can trigger thoughts and cravings for alcohol. Finding the right balance will be significant to ensure that you’re busy and involved yet on your terms. To have a sober Christmas, environments that actively promote alcohol consumption, such as the pub, should be avoided.

Protect your mental health

Your mental health will either support your intentions or disrupt them. As Christmas is such an influential, stressful, and negative time for some, you’ll want to do your best to protect your mental health. Practice meditation, be grounded, be grateful, follow healthy lifestyle choices, and reflect on the positives to embrace sobriety.

Ask for help

Support is available if you’re either worried about Christmas or genuinely need help through cravings. Treatment, support groups and therapy sessions are still offered throughout the festive period. It’s recommended that you spend some time with others, with similar intentions, this Christmas.

Be present

The festive period is associated with alcohol exposure. Yet that doesn’t mean that Christmas must be spent under the influence. Being present will show you this, highlight the benefits of having a sober Christmas, show how many others are sober for a multitude of reasons, and highlight the novelty of this association.

Christmas can and is experienced as sober for so many people through the noise and propaganda of traditions.

Aim for balance

For sobriety to be feasible, you’ll want to feel balanced during this festive period. Take this time to care for yourself, lead a sustainable lifestyle, and enjoy the festivities. A sober Christmas will be easier to maintain with planning and a mindful outlook.


Maintaining sobriety after the festive period

The above of how to have a sober Christmas – a guide for addicts and recovering addicts, can also apply to everyday life after the festive period. By going sober for the holiday season, continuing on this journey will be easier.

Christmas is such an influential time that if you’ve combatted its triggering traditions and associations, you’ll be prepared for day-to-day life. Yet, it’s also important to remember that Christmas is expected to be a persuasive time. Triggers and high-risk situations will be less predictable through the average day, meaning that it can be easier to get complacent.

Remaining mindful, accountable, balanced, and fully invested in your sober journey will be essential. Planning for alcohol exposure, partaking in support groups, revaluating coping strategies, and setting yourself milestones are all encouraged steps.


Preventing a relapse with our guide

Relapse isn’t a guaranteed response to alcohol exposure, and every addict or newly sober individual will react differently to alcohol exposure. Due to this, it’s essential to have a plan in place that works for you to have a sober Christmas.

Your plan will help you understand your relapse risks, how to prevent them and how to work through any influences this festive period.

At Addiction Advocates, we’re here to help you benefit from and take action to lead an alcohol-free Christmas and future through our guide. For more information on ‘how to have a sober Christmas – a guide’, confidential support, or guidance on finding addiction treatment, reach out.

Seth Bolton

Seth is an author, addiction recovery expert and fully accredited member of the national counselling society. He has experience working with a wide range of addictions and mental illnesses using a number of evidence-based therapies and programmes such as the SMART models of addiction recovery.