New Year’s Eve and the holiday season can be an exciting time, particularly if you’re newly sober and in recovery from addiction. When you celebrate New Year’s sober, rather than it becoming about drinking to excess or making poor choices, it’s instead about starting fresh. A sober New Year’s means that you can take on a new perspective about your life, goals, and recovery.
This time of year full of celebrated holidays can be perfect to set intentions and create smaller objectives along the way to help you achieve those intentions.
With that, if your goal is sobriety, New Year’s can also be incredibly challenging. So much of the holiday may be things you associate with drug or alcohol addiction.
You might have to alter how you do things drastically, but you can celebrate an exciting, fulfilling, and also sober New Year’s.
Planning is a powerful tool to avoid relapse when you’re in recovery, especially when you’re newly sober. If you went to treatment for your addiction, you’re likely to have worked on relapse prevention strategies during that time. These are things you can also learn in therapy during the recovery process.
When you have a relapse prevention plan , whether it’s for a particular holiday like New Year’s or just for everyday life, you can stop yourself from slipping back into old and possibly harmful habits.
Create a relapse prevention plan specifically for the holiday, and write it down.
You can include triggers, cravings, and anything else you feel might be important to you. Set actionable goals if you encounter a potentially harmful situation for you.
Identify signs that you might know in yourself that could be a red flag of an impending relapse. Then, have an action plan that details exactly what you’ll do if you sense these red flags.
For example, if a celebratory environment triggers you, what will you do? Maybe you leave the event you’re at, or you could have someone go with you who’s also sober and who can help you stay accountable. Your plan of action can be anything you think will work for you. What’s most important is that the plan is detailed and specific.
Host a Sober Event
You may have a new sober group of people you can spend time with, thanks to treatment or perhaps your recovery group. If so, rather than putting yourself into a potentially triggering situation or one that’s out of your control, think about having your own sober celebration. When you host an event for people in recovery, you have a sense of control over what you do.
You could throw a dance party, or a dinner party, for example. It doesn’t have to be a huge event, but just a way for your sober friends to come together and celebrate. Playing board games, card games, or something similar can be another good theme for sober people.
If you put yourself in a party situation where most people are drinking or using other substances, it’s going to be a potentially difficult time for you. You’re more likely to veer off your treatment plan in your recovery from substance use.
Even if you don’t host the event, look around and see if you can, at a minimum, find an event not centered around alcohol or an alcohol-free event. Museums or local theaters might have events, for example. Alcohol might be available at some events. At the same time, it’s probably not the entire focus of the event.
If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or are involved with other recovery organizations, check to see if they’re doing anything special. Many local meetings have holiday parties and celebratory events. If you don’t already go to AA or NA, maybe it’s a good time to start as you usher in a new year.
There are virtual events for people in recovery too.
If you’re worried about having a sober New Year’s, make it a special time in a different way. Going out of town is a great way to feel like you’re doing something other than your everyday routine. You can also avoid triggering events where you might face a temptation to use drugs or alcohol.
You could visit a friend or family member in another city or take a solo adventure.
Make it a long weekend and try to go somewhere you’ve never been before so that you’re creating a new memory that doesn’t involve alcohol consumption or drug use.
Bring a Friend
If you are going somewhere, you think alcohol could be involved or using any other substance, bring at least one sober friend with you. For example, maybe you have a work or family event that you’re nervous about. If you have even just one person with you who understands what you’re going through, it can make a big difference.
Along with holding each other accountable, you’ll have someone you can talk to about what you’re feeling.
If the people around you are drinking or drunk, it can be challenging to talk to them.
Keep It Short
Depending on what you’re doing and what it will be like, you might plan to keep your appearance short and avoid the late-night scene. For example, maybe you go to a party for an hour and then arrange to leave. You can say hello to people you care about, but you don’t have to stay so long you put yourself in a tough spot.
With that in mind, have an escape plan ready if you’re feeling pressured or uncomfortable.
Drive yourself if possible, or use Uber or Lyft to get a ride, and be ready to go as soon as you think it’s best for you.
Don’t Spend the Holiday By Yourself
If you can avoid spending New Year’s by yourself, try to do so. A holiday spent alone can be as triggering as going to a wild party where everyone is drinking. You need a support system to help you remain accountable and avoid giving in to cravings.
You don’t have to do anything fancy if you’re not ready or comfortable. Have a friend come watch a movie or a small group of your closest friends.
Do Something in Nature
If you have the opportunity to get outside on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, do it. Maybe you get together a group to go hiking, camping, or possibly skiing, depending on where you live.
You don’t have to go far from home, but being in nature is a great way to keep your mind off anything that could lead to cravings.
When you give back in your recovery, it’s empowering for you. It can bring many benefits for your mental health and your ability to stay sober, so why not do something charitable to ring in the new year? Here are reasons to be thankful for sobriety.
Overall, while it’s certainly not without challenges, you can have a wonderful, happy new year without drugs or alcohol. It may be a new way of life for you, and you’ll have to navigate things that perhaps feel uncertain or unfamiliar to you. Still, it will get easier over time as you strengthen your long-term recovery, and if you need help, the team at Opus Health is just a phone call away at 855-953-1345.