Be Realistic About Temptations During the Holiday Season

Any addiction can be problematic during the holiday season. If you have a food addiction or try to quit smoking or are dealing with other addictions like alcohol or drugs, the same steps to fight temp-tations are applicable with slight variations.

A simple plan is to avoid parties where alcohol is served. This is a simple decision that will keep you away from alcohol.

There will always be celebrations you may want to attend, your friends want your company and sometimes you may not have a choice but to attend.
A realistic approach is to attend holiday events only when you feel strong enough and to have a specific plan in place to avoid temptations step-by-step.


The first rule is that you must not let the holiday season become an excuse for you to drink. Stick to your after-care action plan, attend meetings, exercise, do enjoyable activities, be happy, mix with positive people, have fun, etc.

  • What to divulge: You do not have to tell someone why you do not want a drink. You can simply say, “No thanks.”
    Real friends will leave it at that. You can divulge why you don't drink if you choose. Your personal issues must make other people feel bad for having a drink. Most people can drink socially because they are not addicted.
  • Dealing with pushy people: If someone is pressuring you to drink or if they won’t take no for an answer, it’s time to walk away. Find a friend who does care about you. If the pushy person is the host, then it may be time to leave.
    If you are that pushy person then cut it out. If you have a friend who says no to alcohol, then drop it. They may have an issue you don’t know about and don’t need the added pressure from you.
  • Your house, your rules: If you are hosting a holiday event you have every right to make it an alcohol-free event.
    If people come with alcohol, ask them to leave it in the car because it is a alcohol-free party.
  • Buddy up: When you go to an event, take along a friend who is also in recovery. This allows you to feel less alone in your situation which can curb anxiety – which in turn can prevent you taking a drink.
  • Call your mentor: Many treatment programs offer mentors to help you through difficult times. Mentors usually have been in this situation at some point. If you have a mentor, call him before you attend the party to get coping pointers and carry his number with you to the party in case you need to talk to someone during the event.
  • Talk to your doctor: If you feel unsure about how you will deal with the holiday season, your doctor may be able to prescribe a seasonal medication that can help. The holiday is a great time to check in with your doctor anyway because he likely has lots of good ideas about how you can cope with the holidays and addiction.

Finally, be positive. It is tough to be in recovery and be at an event where people are drinking, but you can do it. You don’t have to drink simply because it’s there.
Think of it this way: Once you get through this event where alcohol is present, the next event may be even easier.

Every single time you say, “No thanks” to a drink you are building a new person who doesn’t need that drink. If you think it might help, you may carry a picture of your wife, husband, child, or best friend. When you feel like taking a drink, take a good look at that picture. You are not only staying sober for you; you’re staying sober for all the people who care about you as well.

There will always be addiction and holiday season issues to deal with. The sooner you find good ways to cope, the sooner you can have the holidays full of fun, family and friends without the self-pity and fear of a relapse.