Cheers to Tears

Holidays in Sobriety: Coping Strategies for Staying Sober at Work and Family Parties

Tips for Staying Sober at Work Holiday Parties

The holiday season is here, and with it, the inevitable work holiday parties. While these celebrations can be a fun way to bond with coworkers and let loose after a long year, for those in recovery, they can be a daunting challenge.

With free-flowing alcohol and peer pressure, it can seem impossible to resist the temptations around you. However, with a bit of preparation and the right mindset, you can get through these events with your sobriety intact.

Here are some tips to help you stay sober and enjoy the party.

Importance of Mindset

The first step to staying sober at any social event is to have a positive mindset. Before you attend the party, remind yourself of your goals and motivations for staying sober.

Focus on the benefits of sobriety and the reasons why you made the choice to give up alcohol. Embrace an “I don’t, rather than I can’t” attitude, and remember that you are in control of your choices.

Keep your thoughts positive and avoid negative self-talk that might undermine your commitment to sobriety.

Arrive Early to Avoid Drunken Co-Workers

One of the challenges of work holiday parties is being surrounded by inebriated coworkers. Arriving early can help you avoid the temptation to drink and give you time to take in the situation.

While sober individuals may find it challenging to relate to colleagues who are drinking, arriving early can make it easier to establish a connection with others before they have had too much to drink. Letting Coworkers Know You Won’t be Drinking

If you’re not comfortable having coworkers ask why you’re not drinking, consider letting them know ahead of time.

This can help you avoid awkward situations and possible peer pressure. You don’t need to reveal all of your personal information, but a straightforward, “I’m choosing not to drink tonight,” can help set the tone for the evening and establish healthy boundaries.

Make Friends with the Bartender

Just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with drinks that still look and taste good. Get to know the bartender, and ask them to create a non-alcoholic drink for you.

Faux cocktails or mocktails are a popular option, and bartenders are often masterful at coming up with unique combinations. Having something other than water in your hand will also help you avoid questions from inquisitive coworkers.

Finding Sober Pals at the Event

If possible, try to find others who are also sober at the party. Company culture has evolved in recent years as more and more individuals recognize the dangers of excessive drinking and drug use.

Look for others who are not holding an alcoholic beverage or engaging in drinking games. Comments like “I’m choosing to stay sober tonight,” or “I don’t drink,” can help you find others who share your perspective.

Bringing a Supportive Friend or Date

If you need extra support, consider bringing a friend who supports your sobriety. They can be your wingman and help you navigate any tricky situations that might come up.

Alternatively, if they can’t attend in person, they might be available on the phone to help you stay the course. Having someone in your corner can make all the difference in staying sober and enjoying yourself.

Utilizing the French Exit to Make a Graceful Exit

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the party is overwhelming. If you need to leave early, the French Exit is a good tool to have in your toolbox.

This is where you slip out of the party without saying goodbye to anyone. While not ideal for every social occasion, it’s an excellent technique to end a party without any awkward goodbyes or answering questions.

Overcoming Temptation at the Party

Even with the best preparation, temptations can sometimes get the better of us. Knowing how to cope with triggering situations can help you avoid relapse.

Don’t Give In to the Voice Negotiating with Sobriety

The voice that negotiates with sobriety is what often leads to relapse. Maybe it’s telling you, “Just one drink won’t hurt,” or “You’re missing out on the fun.” Don’t give in.

These voices can be powerful, but they don’t have to dictate your behavior. Counteract them with positive self-talk, remind yourself of the benefits of sober living, and lean on your support system if needed.

Coping with Triggering Situations through HALT

HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. These are the four emotional states that are commonly identified as being linked to substance abuse.

One way to cope with these situations is to have a plan in place. For example, if you’re feeling lonely, call a friend or attend a meeting.

If you’re angry, take a walk or engage in deep breathing exercises. If you’re hungry or tired, pack a snack or schedule a nap to avoid reaching for substances.

Avoiding Alcohol-Fueled Activities

If you’re not interested in being around alcohol-fueled activities, or you feel it’s best to avoid them, consider finding alternative activities to engage in. Participate in the organized games or activities or strike up a conversation with someone who seems to be having a good time without alcohol in their hand.

Additionally, having a focused activity or purpose at the party can make it less challenging to resist temptation.

Have a Plan in Place and Use Support Systems

Having a plan in place for the party and understanding the support systems available to you is essential. Lean on your sober network, sponsor, or therapist if needed.

Prioritize your self-care and make sure you’re hydrated and well-fed. If you need to leave early, that’s okay too.

Your health comes first.

Reminding Yourself of the Benefits of Sobriety

Above all, remember the benefits of sobriety. Reflect on the positive changes you’ve experienced since deciding to get sober.

What have been the benefits of better relationships, improved health, and greater personal satisfaction in your life? Focus on these positive strides, and remember that your sobriety is worth fighting for.

In summary, with the right mindset, preparation, and support systems, you can continue to thrive in recovery while socializing at work holiday parties. Remember to prioritize your safety, stay connected with your supports, and enjoy your sobriety.

Coping with Sobriety during the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and spending time with loved ones. However, for those in recovery, this time of year can also be complicated and overwhelming.

The pressure to drink at holiday parties, exposure to triggering situations, and family stressors can all make maintaining sobriety challenging. With some planning, preparation, and self-care strategies, it is possible to stay sober and enjoy the holiday season.

This article will explore some of the challenges of the holiday season and practical ways to cope with them.

The Challenges of the Holiday Season

The holiday season can bring many challenges for those in recovery. The constant exposure to alcohol and other substances during social events can be a significant trigger for some people.

Additionally, the pressure to drink and fit into social norms can make it difficult to stick to sobriety goals. One may also experience loneliness and isolation during the holiday season, which can lead to negative coping behaviors.

Family stressors, financial pressures, and unrealistic expectations around the holidays can also contribute to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.

Allowing for Indulgences in Non-Alcoholic Treats

One way to manage the pressure of sobriety during the holiday season is to allow for indulgences in non-alcoholic treats. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, try to shift your perspective to what you can do.

Savor a festive hot cocoa or try a new non-alcoholic cocktail recipe. The possibilities are endless, and there are many delicious non-alcoholic drinks available.

By indulging in these treats, you can still feel part of the holiday celebration without compromising your sobriety.

Self-Care Strategies to Cope with Stress

Self-care is critical during the holiday season. With the added stress that comes with the holiday season, it’s essential to take care of yourself.

Some practical self-care strategies that may help include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, making time for exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and mindfulness. If you find social engagements or familial situations triggering, it’s okay to take breaks, set boundaries, and prioritize self-care.

The Importance of Support Systems

Recovery can be challenging, and having a supportive network can make all the difference during the holiday season. Reach out to other sober individuals or attend meetings to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

You may also benefit from talking to friends, family, or a therapist about your sobriety journey. Additionally, consider asking for support when you need it.

Sometimes, reaching out can make a significant difference in maintaining sobriety.

Reflecting on Progress Made in Sobriety

The holiday season is an excellent time to reflect on the progress you’ve made in your sobriety journey. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties, think about how far you’ve come.

Perhaps you’ve gained a new job, relationship, or hobby in sobriety. Maybe you’ve rediscovered your sense of purpose.

Whatever it is, take time to celebrate your accomplishments and reflect on how sobriety has positively impacted your life. By grounding yourself in a sense of gratitude, you can leverage positive emotions to stay strong in your sobriety.

In conclusion, the holiday season can bring a unique set of challenges for those in recovery. With some planning, preparation, and self-care strategies, it is possible to navigate these challenges while maintaining sobriety.

By focusing on non-alcoholic indulgences, prioritizing self-care, and connecting with supportive people, you can stay sober and enjoy all that the holidays have to offer. Embrace sobriety this holiday season and celebrate the progress you’ve made.


Maintaining sobriety during the holiday season can be challenging but taking care of oneself, focusing on the non-alcoholic treats, reflecting on one’s progress, and leaning on support systems can make all the difference. The holiday season should be an enjoyable time of year, and by implementing these strategies, individuals in recovery can embrace sobriety and celebrate their accomplishments.


Q: How can I cope with the pressure to drink at holiday parties? A: Shift your perspective to what you can do and indulge in non-alcoholic treats instead.

Q: What are some self-care strategies to manage stress during the holidays? A: Prioritize getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, making time for exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Q: Why is having a supportive network essential in recovery? A: Having supportive individuals in one’s life can be instrumental in maintaining sobriety.

Q: Is it okay to set boundaries during the holiday season? A: Yes, it’s crucial to set boundaries during the holiday season to prioritize self-care and sobriety.

Q: How can I reflect on my progress in sobriety during the holiday season? A: Take some time to reflect on the positive changes in your life since getting sober and celebrate your accomplishments.

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