Survival Tips to Stay Sober over the Holidays

The end of year can be quite testing. Not only are stress levels at an all-time high, but there are a significant increase in activities which include alcohol on offer. So if you are sober, trying to get sober or recovering from alcohol addiction, you are undoubtedly looking for an escape from this crazy part of the year. Be it from the marketing, the office parties or even the family gatherings; there is ‘danger’ lurking around every corner. It’s almost as if this part of the year should be renamed boozember!

The problems arise for the sober seeking holiday goers in a few ways; the events make you feel like you need to be there, the pressure from friends and families to fit in and the overwhelming, almost noxious adverts make you see this ‘cool’ life involving alcohol. So, what can you do? Well, Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres has a few tips and strategies to help you survive the holiday season and maintain your goals of a sober life. Oh, and you can still have fun by the way!

Think about you and focus on your mind.

You have to make a firm decision. There is no grey area, no middle ground and no submitting to anything. Once you start adding excuses, or half commitments you are in trouble. You must decide NOT to drink, NOT to take part in drinking and to REMAIN sober. There is no half-half about this. If you say maybe, then you will drink, there is no doubt about that. Make that strong-minded decision to stay sober, and that means NOT a single drink.

Survival Tips to Stay Sober

Create feasible expectations about yourself

Jumping into ice cold water is a shock to the system right? Well, so is creating an expectation that is unreasonable. It can really have a challenging effect on you and your sober efforts. You need to realise that it may be hard. You are most likely going to experience FOMO and that you may having feelings of resentment towards other people who are drinking while you are not.

There will most likely be feelings of anxiety, and you could feel misunderstood and perhaps even judged slightly (or a lot.) This could lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Guess what? It is OK to feel those feelings. It’s not some odd sensation never heard of before. These are commonplace in the journey towards sober living. It may be more pronounced as you are around people who are not like-minded and who are not on the same journey. Kind of like watching those runners at 6am on a freezing morning going out for a run. You have probably said “How on earth are they doing that, they must be mad,” right? Well you are that runner. Getting that good future going, even if those around you don’t understand.  Just because it is a challenge, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Nothing (as the saying goes) is impossible!

Be curious and kind to yourself

So you’ve seen and realised that the holidays are challenging, and that there are events that will be taking place that are going to be difficult to attend. How do you make it less challenging? Well, as Johannesburg’s leading alcohol and drug rehab centre, we think you should look at taking on an attitude of curiosity and kindness towards your own damn self! When you are feeling uncertain and uncomfortable about something, recognise it and don’t judge your own thoughts for it. Verbalise how you are feeling, or at the very least acknowledge the situation and your associated feelings. If you want to say, ‘I am feeling sad right now,’ then say it! Act as a sieve to the emotions you are feeling, let it pass through you, and not get caught in you. Now once you have those feelings, start to drown yourself in compassion and love. Give yourself a pep talk; tell yourself how great you are doing, and how you are moving forward. Be your own cheerleader!


Debunk the alcohol fun myth

There is this barrier that holds a lot of people during their early stages of sobriety. It entails the thought that something can only be fun once it’s filed with alcohol. You need to think about this statement carefully. Surely if an event is only fun if it is powered by alcohol, it cannot be that great of an event? You should look at it like it’s going to be fun anyway. If there are a group of people at an event having fun, it’s because the event is fun, not the alcohol. When you make this switch in your mind-set, you realise that you don’t need the booze to have a real party.

Make your ‘yes’ count!

You need to think about what it is you actually want to attend. Truth be told, there are actually only a few events you need to go to. Just because you get an invite, doesn’t mean you have to say yes to it!

Your vote is an important one. You need to choose what is right for you, and put yourself first, every time! You may believe this to be slightly selfish but guess what, who cares. You are making a huge change to YOU, not someone else. Treat the decisions as such!

Survival Tips to Stay Sober Debunk the alcohol fun myth

Preparation is key

Should you make the decision to say YES and attend an event, you must ensure that you prepare correctly. You must look at the event and imagine the fun you will be having without alcohol. Beat your chest at the pride you feel that you are doing this, sober!

Make sure you can get out of there on your own stead (own transport here is key) and make sure you bring your own alcohol free drinks. If you don’t want to, make sure the venue has the alcohol free drinks you need.

Get prepared by having pre-arranged answers for questions about your alcohol free status. Get the snacks that help remove that craving for drinks, and perhaps most importantly – get yourself a delicious treat for when you return home as a reward. Oh, and because you will be hangover free the next day, make sure you make plans for the next day!


Event attitude

Here are some top tips to keep going at the party:

  • Amp up your arrival by listening to affirmations before you arrive at the party. Even sit in the car at the event and just get in the zone. 
  • Pour your non-alcoholic drinks into glasses that look like the ones everyone else is drinking out of. It prevents the “can I grab you a dop’ moment.
  • Always try having a wingman with you at a call’s reach away.  There to support you. One who knows your situation and who wants to help and keep you going strong.
  • Take as many breaks and breathers as you can. Look for a place to just escape so you can regroup.
  • Focus on other people – get out of your own mind. It helps avoid the pangs AND you get to know people!
  • Don’t pour drinks or offer to fetch for others.
  • Leave on your time.

On the way out

The event is done and you are heading home. Here are some things to think about and do:

  • Remind yourself that you are doing it! You are driving away from a party, sober! That’s huge!
  • If you have family when you get home – look at them, look at how much they mean to you. If they are awake, tell them, if they are asleep, gaze at the glory of the loved ones you have in your life. You are doing this for you, and them!
  • Smash that well deserved treat!
  • Enjoy and savour your bed routine, it’s not a mess, it’s diligent and noted. Take in the PJs, the make-up remover, the fresh bed. Savour the entire moment. It is done in your own, sober headed time.

Our Survival Tips to Stay Sober say to Watch out for next-day cravings

Alcohol, like any other drug tends to have claws. The day after your event, you may start to feel those claws as the craving for alcohol is stronger than before. Get ready for it, and when it comes, know what it is and stop it. Avoid places and people that could trigger a drink, for example – the boys are meeting for breakfast at the pub after the end of year party. This may not be a good idea! If you know it before it happens, there won’t be a chance to get caught off guard!


Sobriety must be taken advantage of!

Being sober over a period where everyone else drinks is a special thing to experience! You get to experience days that are usually covered in hangovers and pain, fresh and full of life. No exhaustion, no anxiety, no regret. With this renewed energy you need to make the most out of it. Eat well, sleep well and exercise! You have a lot of extra energy, make use of it. Go for hikes, hit the beach, and do the things you would have never done because you were lying in front of the TV eating fatty, greasy foods.

Honour and reward yourself

You got through the holidays alcohol-free. That is deserving of all the accolades there are! Old habits are being demolished and replaced with amazing new ones. Your body, your mind and your spirit are being rebuilt. What a time to be alive! What you need to think about is that you are saving money, and giving yourself the ultimate gift. So, why not gift yourself (seeing as you are saving all that cash!) Book a long massage, eat at a great eatery, and buy that new pair of running shoes. follow our Survival Tips to Stay Sober and Reward yourself. Reward your sobriety

Survival Tips to Stay Sober Sobriety must be taken advantage of!
First Step Outpatient Rehab is part of the Houghton House group of rehabs

Recovery at Houghton House Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Centres

with these Survival Tips to Stay Sober. We help you to find the right treatment for addiction in order to achieve sobriety. We offer individualized and personalized care for your needs throughout this journey.

In an emergency, you can always call us on our mobile number: 079 – 770 – 7532

We’ll help you enroll in one of our alcohol or drug rehab programs.

Open chat
How Can We Help You?
Hello! How can we help you ?