It’s the holiday season, and while we’re still living with uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, strides have been made. Many people who have been vaccinated are now around other people for the first time in a while. It may seem that everyone is partying and celebrating.

Most people in recovery choose to stay away from parties or events where there may be drinking or other substance use. But you may feel pressured to go to family events after a long time of not seeing them. Or you may end up at an event you thought was straight-edge, only to learn there is substance abuse taking place.

A Few Easy Ways to Say No

Saying “no” to somebody isn’t as complicated as it sounds. You may feel pressured if the question catches you by surprise. Making “excuses” isn’t necessarily healthy, so don’t feel pressured to make up a lie. Saying “no” and continuing with whatever you’re doing is a good plan.

Again – for the most part, lying isn’t worth it. If you aren’t upfront about the reason you’ve quit drinking, you may be tempted. However, being upfront doesn’t mean breaking your anonymity. Here are a few ways to reject a drink:

You may want to make an excuse or lie up if you’re with strangers, and you don’t want to divulge what’s going on. But if you’re around people you know, don’t be dishonest. Let them know you don’t drink (or smoke weed) and do not intend to any time soon. If that offends them, that’s their problem.

Think, Don’t Drink! Have A Plan

You don’t have to drink or use marijuana or any other substance if you don’t want to. However, if you’re worried about triggers at holiday events,  it’s vital to have an “exit plan,” such as planning to go to a 12-step meeting or another sober gathering.

In recovery, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground. Your safety and serenity should come first in your life. For one thing, COVID isn’t over, and it hasn’t been cured, and you may not even want to go to a party.

If you realize that you’re in a sketchy or uncomfortable situation, it’s time to THINK of your exit plan. Call your sponsor, text a friend, or let somebody else you trust that you’re having a bad time and are heading to a meeting.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or somebody you love needs help with a substance use disorder, we’re here to help you get started on your journey. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn about your options.

2020 has not been the best year for anyone. Let’s face it; it’s been strange and difficult. Many people started this pandemic, believing that it would last a few weeks or months. Today, we are just beginning to turn another corner that makes it look like we’re going back into a shutdown just in time for a holiday season. COVID-19, mental health, and staying sober are things a person in recovery must consider when planning for this holiday season.

Staying Safe At Holiday Season Get-Togethers

It can be hard to be alone this holiday season, but many people will be. Risking your health or the health of others isn’t going to help you stay sober. You may have family members asking you to attend gatherings. Or you may be talking about doing a socially-distanced event with a few of your immediate family. There are challenges to celebrating for everyone.

Holiday time is often a time of turbulence for people who are newly-sober. Try only to attend events where alcohol is not being served. If you are in a COVID-19 hotspot, it may make sense to not attend any events in person at all. If there is alcohol present, ask the host or hostess to provide an alternative, preferably at a different table.

Make a plan to stay sober and work your recovery program this holiday season. Your plan may include forming a small “pod” of recovery peers you meet in-person regularly but no one else. If so, you’ll also want to get regular tests for COVID. If you are visiting family or traveling, COVID-19 tests may be required in some jurisdictions.


Socializing Online in Recovery


You can go to 12-step meetings online whenever you need to. Your local AA meetings are probably also set up online – search for them online to get specifics. They may have special events for the holidays.

If you’re lonely during the holidays, you’re probably not alone! Get in touch with others in recovery and make plans to do something “virtually” like stream a holiday movie. You can use chat to make comments or even stream it on Twitch for your friends to watch with you.

Safety At In-Person Holiday Gatherings

Be as safe as you can be, especially when it comes to caring about others. If you have an elderly relative, you may want to call them on the phone rather than visit them in person. The same is true for any other relatives you worry about.

Remember that wearing a mask in public is an essential part of being accountable for your actions. While it’s rarely followed, Dr. Fauci has recommended that people wear face masks at small family gatherings indoors.

Respect public health guidelines and avoiding risky behavior. For one thing, you don’t want to get sick or transmit a virus.

This Holiday, Too, Shall Pass

It may seem more stressful or less cheerful this year because it’s dangerous to do holiday activities in-person. It’s fair to acknowledge those feelings, but it’s still essential to follow guidelines. This year may be a year you make sacrifices to get through.

Next year might be completely different. We don’t know what is coming, but you have the tools to cope with what is here at this moment. If you’re worried or need reassurance, reach out to a sober friend or your sponsor.

Practice self-care and be gentle with yourself. This year, the holidays may seem sad, but this is just the year 2020. There are many more holidays to come! Try to find ways to celebrate with people you love.

Getting Help For Addiction

Even with the holidays, there are opportunities to get sober. COVID-19 may have changed a few things, but we can still offer you the help you need to start our journey. Contact us at 619-316-4767 to learn more about how we can help.


The holidays can be a stressful time, even for those who are not in recovery. This holiday season, there is still a lot to be grateful for. You’re here, you’re alive, and you’re in recovery.

No matter where you’re in recovery, you may have some unresolved feelings about the holiday and the people you spend it with. You’re entitled to those feelings, and it’s okay to feel them. You don’t have to feel grateful or cheerful if it’s not genuine. Part of recovery is accepting that not every day is a perfect day.

Family and the Holidays

Freedom from addiction means that you can be grateful for recovery even if you feel sad or angry. Today, you can choose who you spend the holiday with. Not everyone has a family that invites them to eat. Many people have also experienced trauma that makes family gatherings painful or a wrong choice for spending the holidays.

Today, you have choices. If you don’t have a family you want to spend time with, you can let the 12-step rooms embrace you. Many meetings have special “holiday hours” and some even run 24 hours for people who need them.

Your Recovery Family

It’s okay to build your own family of people in recovery. If you’re new to recovery, do what feels right for you. If you’re worried about spending time with people in your family, have an “escape plan” that you plan out with your sponsor. Whatever you do, don’t waste time alone. You don’t have to! Call your sponsor if you’re worried about holiday plans.

Be a part of the celebration you choose to attend. Get out of your thoughts and feelings by helping set the table, cleaning up, or even cooking. It’s hard to obsess about the past while you’re concentrating on helping.

Many people say Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you DO have. Gratitude, in recovery, is more of an action than a feeling. While you may have conflicted feelings about the holiday, you can still “act as if” and the feelings can follow. If you're uncomfortable, you can always hightail it to a 12-step meeting where you’ll be with the recovery family that understands what you're going through.

Just don’t pick up a drink or a drug, and you’ll get through it!

Getting Help for Addiction

Addiction can be a downward spiral for many people, especially around the holiday season. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and hitting bottom is not required to seek recovery. We’ve helped hundreds of people chart a path to recovery. Give yourself a chance. For a free and anonymous consultation, please contact us to learn more about how we can help. Our number is 619-363-4767.

The holidays are always a bit stressful, aren’t they? For many people in recovery, the holidays are more than stressful; they’re upsetting or intimidating. The holiday season can cause people in recovery strife for many reasons.

Some people have trauma in their pasts that brings up issues. You may be living with mental illness and have a family that’s not quite the best at understanding it or may have even handled it in a way that caused harm. You may feel guilt and shame for the pain your addiction caused your family. You may have been a “big partier” in the past, and not feel comfortable

Whatever the reason the holidays feel difficult, you’re not alone. Nobody has a perfect family or background that makes Thanksgiving and Christmas the best time of the year. Staying clean during the holidays can sometimes require creative problem-solving. Reaching out to somebody else in recovery is always your best option if you don't know what to do.Image of a young Asian man and an older Caucasian man in Xmas sweaters

Here are four important things to try during the holidays:

  1. Have a sober buddy. Ask permission to bring them to your holiday celebrations. Your sponsor is one person you can invite, or choose somebody else who doesn’t drink who will already be there. You may have an uncle or family member that is a lot of fun but doesn’t drink like the rest of the crowd.
  2. Make a plan to check in with others in recovery. Call or text your sponsor and friends to let them know how things are going and if you’re feeling stressed. Chances are, they may be having stress too! It’s easier when you know you’re not alone.
  3. Practice mindfulness if you’re upset. You can download mindfulness meditations from most cell phone app stores. Keep your phone with you and retreat to a private area for a few minutes. You’ll be able to slow your breathing and center yourself.
  4. Go to 12-step meetings. Some 12-step meetings have “marathons” or other special times for the holidays. If you think it’s going to be a hard day, plan to go to one meeting before a holiday event, and one session after.


The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but people new to recovery often feel fragile this time of year. It’s natural to feel a loss, shame, guilt, hurt and other emotions, but you don’t have to get high or drink over them. Staying clean is your top priority, and it’s important to take care of yourself.

Getting Help

Are you or somebody you love struggling with addiction? Are you unsure which services you need to get started on the path to recovery? Please give us a call at (619) 393-4767 to learn more about your options.


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