Staying sober during the holidays can seem like an impossible task– after all, our culture revolves around drinking and partying, especially during the holiday season. But don’t let this discourage you. It’s absolutely possible to stay sober, and we’re going to walk through a few key points you need to remember when trying to stay on the straight and narrow.
For more help, please read Important Bible Verses About Alcohol Addiction, Powerful Bible Verses to Overcome Addiction, and How to Survive Seasonal Depression During the Holidays.
Holiday party dilemma
Going to a Christmas party sober is an entirely different experience.
The way most people see it, what holiday/special occasion/weekend/Monday is complete without getting hammered, right? That’s just what you DO.
But if you’re trying to quit drinking, or are new to sobriety, parties can become a very uncomfortable battle if you’re not careful. You see, alcoholics love company. They want everyone drinking. If someone isn’t drinking, they want to know why the hell not. And sometimes, they’ll bring it to everyone’s attention if you don’t have a glass in your hand.
Have you ever been given that look of pity from an alcoholic? Yeah, I don’t like it either.
Our circumstances for quitting may vary, but we quitters have one thing in common: what once appeared “fun and exciting” has become a major disruption to our lives (and that’s putting it mildly). And now we think we have to keep up with activities or obligations that we did before, but without the drink. AND without expressing that it bothers us. AND being optimistic.
Is that even possible? Are we just kidding ourselves that we can do it?
The lies we tell ourselves
When I used to drink, I thought I just needed to “loosen up” and let things settle.
This way of thinking turned into complete social anxiety that paralyzed me until I had a drink in my hand and was slamming it. Just numb the crap out of this anxiety and then I’ll feel better. THEN I can talk to people.
Can you tell I was believing a lie?
The truth is, drinking alcohol or abusing substances is never going to cure anxiety. It’s always going to lead us down, to a darker place and away from God.
Years ago, I read a book about how to quit drinking. And I’ll never forget a description that the act of drinking can be compared to that of the pitcher plant. This cup-shaped plant contains a sweet-smelling liquid which lures its insect victims into it’s mouth. Once the prey touches the juice, it slowly descends downwards towards its impending death.
Alcohol is very much the same way– we are the insects, captivated by the nectar. And we are one drink away from sliding far, far down, unable to escape.
Another lie we tell ourselves is that we can resist drinking. We tell ourselves this when we’re newly sober and vulnerable. We choose to believe the lie that it won’t phase us or that we can easily pass up on the drink.
If you’re struggling to stay sober, or are newly sober, what lies have you believed from the enemy?
What the Bible says about staying sober
The Bible says a lot about sobriety and the importance of having a clear head.
In Proverbs 5, we read about the hold that sin can have on us, and how it can lead us away from the Lord. How much are we led astray when we choose to indulge in intoxicating substances? It may feel good at the time, but it only ends in one way: enslavement.
Proverbs 5: 21-23 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.
In Proverbs 6, we also read about an adulterous woman. Yes, this is a literal description and a warning about getting wrapped up in an adulterous woman, but I really think it can be applied to the lust of alcohol (or other drugs).
Proverbs 6:25, 27-28 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
Furthermore, 1 Corinthians reminds us that hanging around the wrong people can get us into more trouble. And to be clear: the “wrong people” many times can be people we really like– people who are fun, charismatic, and the life of the party.
But if you’re trying to stay sober, and these same people could influence you to fall off the wagon…they are bad company.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Taking this one step further, in Ephesians, we see Paul clearly state the “put off, put on” teaching (what my husband refers to as the “POPO Principle”). When we decide to follow Christ, we are made a new creature.
This means we need to “put off” the old self, and “put on” the new. It’s not a one-and-done. It’s a continuous process, that takes daily practice.
Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Tips for sobriety success during the holidays
If you’re trying to stay sober during the holidays, here are a a few things I want you to remember:
Just Say No
I know this sounds very after-school-special, but no is always an option. Just because you’re invited to a holiday party, that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to go. Saying no is not a bad thing, especially when it comes to maintaining sobriety.
We can apply this, not just to parties, but in other areas during the holidays. Understand your limits, and don’t be afraid to say no to others.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And sometimes, we have holiday commitments we cannot get out of. That’s when we plan ahead. Some things to consider:
- Be sure to have a sober buddy with you, that can be both support and an accountability partner.
- Have a reliable way to get home. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere because your driver started drinking.
- Bring a backup. Coffee, tea, soda, or even an energy drink are all non-alcoholic and can work as a good substitute.
- Avoid being around bad influences or stress inducers. If there’s certain people that you know will try to ruffle your feathers or pressure you to use, limit interaction or avoid them completely. This can apply to both parties and just everyday life. You don’t need toxic people around you that will only sabotage your sobriety.
- Have a servant’s heart. Wherever you are, look for ways you can be a blessing to others. If you’re a guest at a party, help out the host. If you’re stressed, how can you turn that stress around and help someone else less-fortunate?
Know Your Triggers
One of the keys to sobriety success is understanding what is going to trigger the desire to use. Especially knowing this ahead of time will help you succeed throughout the holiday season.
And I’m not just talking parties either– financial stress or family stress can also be contributors to start using again. Understand ahead of time what could potentially tempt you or snare you, and prepare to avoid those activities, or know when you’ve had enough and need to remove yourself from a situation.
Just because we get around drinkers does not mean we need to stay around them. If you make the decision to attend a holiday party or social engagement during the holiday season, and unexpected drinking or using occurs, leave early. You don’t have to feel pressured to stay or make yourself uncomfortable, just because you’re afraid of looking rude.
Know your boundaries and stick to them.
Have the Right Mindset
Making it through the holiday season is all about having a solid foundation and a strong mindset. Remember, the devil is a prowling lion waiting to pounce.
If you’re going to resist drinking this holiday season, you have to let God work on your heart. We do this through getting in His word (which develops our hearts and minds), and plenty of prayer.
You also have to be prepared to say no, and not allow the enemy to tempt you.
Bottom line: sobriety during the holidays takes work, but it is well worth the reward.
Truly, what needs to happen to stay sober during the holidays is a full on heart change. We need to have our addiction to alcohol/drugs turn into an addiction to God, serving Him instead of self.
As an added bonus, being sober means that I don’t have to worry about getting home safely after a party. I don’t have to think “Oh no, did I really say that?” and panic because I called another guest something ugly (yup, this has happened). I don’t have to feel the morning after shame.
And trust me, I’ve felt it.
Oh, and I also don’t have to wake up with a POUNDING HEADACHE from getting carried away at the open bar. I can wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new day.
I pray you take the same steps to ensure your sobriety this holiday season.
Any mental health information contained within this post is for general purposes only. It is not in any way a substitute for specific medical advice. You must therefore obtain the relevant professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the information in these webpages.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.