How Do I Stay Sober During Family Holiday Activities?

The holidays are not always fun and games, it can be a challenging time for individuals living in sobriety. Family, food, work, community events and travel add up to a huge amount of stress for everybody. When addiction is factored in, management of stressful situations can feel overwhelming. Learn some positive tools to carry into family holiday activities to support sober living and keep on track with recovery.

Tips to Stay Sober

Getting through the holiday season without picking up a drink or getting high takes planning and forethought to avoid complacency. The following are some tips to help a person with addiction in sobriety stay focused on recovery:

Start early

Don’t procrastinate and cause added stress by leaving holiday preparation to the last minute. Stress and anxiety can lead down the path of relapse

Take off pressure

Focus more on sobriety than making others happen. If it means skipping some events, buying less gifts or staying home more, do what is best in the moment. Focus on a few key events with loved ones and say no to the rest

Plan ahead

Manage a schedule by planning in advance for what will happen (shopping early for an outfit or planning holiday menus). Ask for help when needed to get the ball rolling and to avoid trying to manage it all alone

Say ‘no’

Maintaining sobriety is more important than going to a uncle’s Christmas party or co-worker gathering. It may also help to stay away from others who are drinking or using substances

Bring a friend

Some holiday events bring more anxiety than others and present risk of relapse. Stay sober by bringing a friend to share the experience


Get out of town, go on vacation and take a retreat away for the holidays. Find time and space to breathe, relax and enjoy rather than feel stressed by all the activity


Increasing the amount of work can be problematic only if a person transfers addiction to working. It is a good excuse to stay away from toxic places which might spur relapse and build up additional funds for the holidays

Lean on sober friends

Engage in activities with sober friends and companions who are going through the same thing. Seek one another out and provide support for the experience

Create a prevention plan

Although a relapse prevention plan may be in place, adjust it during the holidays accordingly. Find out where meetings are during holidays, connect with other therapists and build a support system

Self check-in

Attend more 12-step and other support meetings, go to more yoga classes or take up journaling and other positive activities to cope with addiction. Healthy coping mechanisms will help support a person through the holiday season and avoid relapse.


Recovery is a lifelong process. If you are struggling with sobriety around the holidays or due to other stressors, there is hope. Call us to find out how we can support your sober living plan or connect a loved one living with addiction to recovery resources.