Navigating the holidays can be tricky when newly sober. That is because even though the holidays are a time for joy and happiness, they can be extremely stressful, too. If you have just recently gotten sober, you may be wondering what you should do in order to get through the holidays with your sobriety still intact. Being newly sober is an extremely vulnerable place to be in. However, being prepared to handle not-so-friendly relatives and people who ask, “why don’t you drink?” can empower you and strengthen your sobriety.
How and When Do I Share My Sobriety Status?
For many people newly in recovery, they often wonder when it’s appropriate to tell friends, family, and colleagues that they’re sober. Your sobriety status is personal; you are under no obligation to tell anyone unless you’re ready. You also do not need to tell people about it by a certain time. While there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to sobriety, you may not be ready to discuss it — and that is okay. If you want to let others know that you are sober and no longer drinking, there is one important thing to remember: speak from the heart.
When you’re ready to share, be honest about your sobriety status. Don’t worry about finding the right words to say “I am sober” to others. The people who love and care for you won’t mind how you present it. Rather they will likely be honored that you chose to share such an important aspect of your life with them. Of course, you may feel additional pressure during the holidays to talk about this, but do not let anything force you to make any decisions that you are not ready to.
What to Say When Someone Asks You, “Why Don’t You Drink?”
Even in today’s world, where recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is more common than ever, there are still people who are going to question you if you are not having an alcoholic beverage at a party, gathering, or other event (especially during the holidays). This can make you feel backed into a corner. This is especially true if you do not want to talk about your recovery status because it’s personal, or because you just do not want to share that information with the person asking. Remember, you are not obligated to tell anyone about your sobriety if you do not want to. If and when someone asks you, “why don’t you drink?”, there are a few things that you can say.
“I am a recovering alcoholic.”
Be 100% honest. Say, “I am a recovering alcoholic” and don’t forget to say it with pride. There is nothing shameful about your accomplishments, so feel free to share them proudly. Just because you say that you are in recovery does not mean that you need to share your life story with the person who asked, either. If that individual continues to pry to the point where you are uncomfortable, simply let them know that you do not want to share any more information, or find an excuse to leave the conversation.
“I do not enjoy alcohol.”
Many people do not enjoy the taste of beer, wine, or liquor. This is not unusual. Even if it seems like everyone engages in drinking from time to time, there are people who choose not to drink because they don’t like the taste, how it makes them feel, or what it does to their diet. It is completely acceptable to say that you do not like alcohol when asked “why don’t you drink?”. No further explanation is needed.
“I’m the designated driver.”
You might not want to talk about your sobriety at all, especially to people who do not know very well. If you are asked about why you are not drinking, consider stating that you are the designated driver for the night. Most people understand the responsibility that comes with that, respect that answer, and move on from the conversation.
You can also approach the question, “why don’t you drink?” with some humor if you feel comfortable. Some people are more comfortable making a silly joke, and you may be one of those people. Whatever response you feel most comfortable providing is the one who should offer.
Avoiding Relapse Triggers and Developing an Action Plan
The only things that you should be focused on during the holidays when it comes to your sobriety is avoiding relapse triggers and developing a strong action plan. There is no doubt that the holiday season can be triggering for a vast number of reasons. Whether it is being face-to-face with an estranged family member, working overtime to earn extra money for gifts, or even traveling frequently, it is important that you take time to identify what your specific triggers are. You can do this by taking some time to think and write them down so that they are out in the open for you to see clearly. Once you have done this, create an action plan for yourself. If and when you are in a situation where you are feeling triggered, enact your action plan. Your plan can include things such as:
- Bringing your own car to a holiday event so you can leave whenever you are feeling triggered
- Bringing your own drinks to the event so that you can enjoy something you like without drinking alcohol
- Talking with a friend or a sponsor prior to the event and letting them know that you may need to call them for extra support
- Accepting that it is okay to leave any event at any time if you are not comfortable
Developing an action plan is personal, as it should meet your needs. Take the time to have this plan put in place so that you can enact it when needed and preserve your sobriety.
Alcohol Rehab at Pacific Sands Recovery in Orange County, CA
If you are experiencing alcoholism and need help, reach out to Pacific Sands Recovery in Orange County, CA right now. Our team of dedicated professionals will work with you to ensure that you get the appropriate care to meet your needs.
Do not hesitate to contact us. Call us any time at (949) 426-7962 to speak with one of our compassionate specialists who can answer all of your questions, or visit our website to learn more.