Reason to Celebrate: How to Enjoy Holidays While Staying Sober

In the United States, over 15 million people struggle with alcoholism. Learning how to be sober during the holidays is the best thing you'll ever do for your recovery.

In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there's a saying: "Alcoholism is an illness that comes in three-fold: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve." AA has this saying because you're especially vulnerable to relapsing during the holidays.

You, too deserve to enjoy the holidays without compromising your sobriety. Your recovery is worth the effort.

Here are some tips on how to stay sober during the holidays:

How To Be Sober: Call Friends

If you need help staying sober during the holidays, ask your sober friends for help. Just talking to a sober friend can help you prevent a relapse. 

Talking to understanding friends will calm you down. These friends will also make you feel "heard," especially if your family members are stressing you out.

Have an AA friend or sponsor to call before the holiday event and after. That way, you have to check in with someone to account for your sobriety.

Have a Decoy Drink and Excuses

A decoy drink is a beverage without alcohol you keep in your hand. This discourages others from offering you alcohol.

If you don't want to tell others about your sobriety, have excuses planned for holiday occasions. For example, when someone offers you a drink, say, "No thanks! I'm on medication and I can't drink."

Learn more tips to stay sober while others drink.

Embrace AA

Going to extra AA meetings just as important than any other relapse prevention activity. 

AA knows that maintaining sobriety is more difficult during the holidays. That's why AA has additional meetings and events during this time.

AA even has "alcathons." Alcathons are 24 hours of AA meetings, food, and socializing. AA hosts alcathons during Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day.

Going to AA meetings helps reinforce the mental health benefits of sobriety.


Doing volunteer work during the holidays can help you stay sober.

When you're volunteering, you're giving back to the community. This will give you a more positive attitude and outlook on life. You're less likely to relapse when you feel good about yourself.

Volunteering also serves as a distraction. Distracting yourself is an effective strategy for dealing with troubling thoughts, memories, and any relapse trigger you might be exposed to.

Avoid Stress

Avoid stressful situations and people. If being with your family is too stressful, make other plans.

When you go to an event, have your own transportation so you can leave whenever you want.

You Don't Need Alcohol To Be Happy

According to the Statesman Journal, the nation's alcohol consumption increases during holidays. Knowing how to be sober means enjoying the holidays in your own way: without alcohol.

Alcohol companies make a quarter of their profits between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Save your money and your recovery by finding ways to stay sober.

Stay motivated: Buy AA jewelry and gifts. The more inspiration you have to remain sober, the better off you'll be.